Risk. Fail. Repeat.
"If you really want to create a company that can change the world, it’s probably going to take a decade or more before you have that experience." — Steve Case
As a college student with lofty career ambitions, I often found myself feeling trapped. High school in the 21st century is an incredibly intense experience, with everyone spending four years focused on a singular goal: acceptance to an elite university. But once you reach college, life slows down significantly. Suddenly there is no immediate goal to pursue. Every meaningful job requires experience and a college degree. Learning is important, but I often found myself killing time. All the work I did was necessary, but tangible signs of progress were few. It brings to mind the Bob Dylan lyric “Yesterday everything was goin’ too fast/Today it’s movin’ too slow.”
In the hours when your professional life moves slowly, it is easy to feel despondent. And there is a shortage of advice and wisdom on this topic. Everyone conveys the importance of working hard and taking risks, but nobody seems to engage with the idea that sometimes, the only cure for your problems is time.
Leave it to Steve Case to alleviate fears. He understands the desire to change the world (as somebody who has done it himself, he’s certainly qualified to speak on the topic), and stresses that it is worth the wait. But waiting is not enough. He advises us to view these situations as opportunities, rather than setbacks. We need to run towards these challenges, rather than away from them. And no matter how strong the desire, we cannot give up.
Even if my situation does not apply to everyone, or even every college student, these feelings are common. It is easy to commit yourself fully to a risky venture if you think there’s a chance you’ll be successful tomorrow. Embracing a decade-long challenge requires much more grit. Steve Case’s advice is as refreshing as it is reassuring.
College student, clock-watcher, professional persister.