Now that the spring semester is over, I wanted to reflect on a few things that have stuck with me from the past 9 months as a student.
1. Life is all about people. We create moments together that make up a life. We share in our happiness and our sadness, our achievements and our disappointments. People are who make our lives what they are. They are the color to our lives. I don’t know me without you. You don’t know you without me. We are mirrors to the other. Painting pictures of lives through space and time.
2. No one knows everything. In a classroom taught by world renown professors and students from the best undergraduate universities in the world, no one has all the answers. The answers to tough questions comes from connecting ideas between different disciplines, across different individuals, regions, countries, cultures, and lives. Collectively we are pushing the boundaries of humanity, and individually we should try and become the best person in a broader network and team of humans.
3. Life is uncertain. Much of what we do and what we think about doing has to do with measuring and mitigating uncertainty. We can think probabilistically about the world, “what is the likelihood I would get this outcome if the action were to happen 100 times over?” We can build decision trees to help us make decisions. What is the likelihood of one particular outcome versus a different one.
4. Be humble and wear your Harvard softly. Harvard does not make you invincible. You will be wrong often. You are still human. Studying at Harvard is a gift that should be labeled “Fragile & Handle with Care.”
5. Data misses the human story. Regressions and statistics can put numbers to analyses, but we should be hesitant when numbers dry up the tears that represent human life. Data analysis can be extremely useful, but data represents on the ground realities – people with lives. There is story beyond the numbers. Make sure you understand the story that fits the numbers.
6. Always do your best work. Be proud of what you are capable. My former boss was killed in a terrorist attack in Nairobi. Life is painfully short and sadly shorter for some than others. We should try and do our best with whatever hand we are given. Life is a lot of luck, and what you do with it. The what you do with it is up to you, so might as well do your best.
7. Be grateful. Grateful to learn, to think, to be challenged, to change your mind, in a world of immense resources and past knowledge. Only you will be the one to push yourself, to be diligent and dedicated to what you want to learn about, and use your time frugally and you should decide the ways that you want to.
8. You get what you negotiate in life, not what you deserve. You can “go with the flow” or decide and act on what you what. If you don’t prioritize your time, someone else will. You might as well go for what you want to do and then get others to get see what you see and do.
9. Speak clearly, stand tall and have confidence. Being an effective speaker is extremely powerful for your ideas to take root, for you to feel part of some connection outside yourself. Do stretches to make your body bigger to build your speaking confidence. Look people in the eye and see if they are listening to you. Smile and share your humanness with the world.
10. Loving is doing. Always and forever. One of the best things we can do in these short and precious lives is love. It’s what makes us human.
Thank you to those who made this an amazing school year. Looking forward to another year of the epic adventure come September!