While possessing the correct answers is crucial, success can also be attained by posing the right questions. As Gates stated:
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve tackled every big new problem the same way: by starting off with two questions. I used this technique at Microsoft, and I still use it today. I ask these questions literally every week about Covid-19.
Here they are: Who has dealt with this problem well? And what can we learn from them?
In essence, this encapsulates Gates’ approach. When attempting to tackle a significant problem or reach a substantial goal, avoid spending time trying to create something new from scratch. Instead, look for an excellent existing solution that can be adapted to your needs. Seek out individuals who have successfully resolved the issue or achieved the objective. Begin with the end in mind – the resolution or accomplishment – and work your way back.
This method serves as a great equalizer since it doesn’t require you to be exceptionally creative, intelligent, connected, educated, or wealthy. All that’s needed is the willingness to search, examine, and follow the steps and processes discovered. The best part is that you’ll embark on this journey with confidence – rather than hope – that your efforts will produce results.
As the saying goes, “what works for others can definitely work for you.”
Bill Gates on Using Your Time Wisely
Warren Buffett once remarked, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Gates shares a similar perspective:
He recalls Warren showing him his calendar, which had many empty slots. Gates used to believe that filling every minute was the only way to be productive. However, he realized that being cautious with time and allowing for days with nothing on the schedule meant that “sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority.”
Gates emphasizes that a packed schedule is not an indicator of your commitment or effectiveness; it simply makes you busy.
If you find yourself struggling to achieve your goals, take a step back and identify what truly matters and drives results. In most cases, the key factor isn’t you, so don’t assume your presence is indispensable in every meeting or call.
Remember, an overbooked calendar might be preventing you from attaining the success you aspire to and rightfully deserve.
Bill Gates on Being a Good Leader
During Microsoft’s early years, Gates utilized his remarkable memory to monitor the hours employees worked by memorizing their license plates. He would check the parking lot to see when they arrived and left. Given that Gates worked weekends and “didn’t believe in vacations,” this approach is not too surprising.
However, Gates eventually recognized that focusing on results was more important and a better use of his time as a leader. He also learned to adjust his expectations, particularly in terms of patience. As Gates mentioned:
Patience is an essential component of success, particularly for leaders.
Reflect on the most exceptional boss you’ve ever had. You were inspired to perform your best because you knew they cared about and believed in you, and you didn’t want to disappoint them.
One of the most effective ways to demonstrate to your employees that you care and have faith in their abilities is by exercising patience. When you display patience and convey genuine confidence, your team members will naturally be driven to discover methods to accomplish tasks that astonish everyone – themselves included.