What matters more than your talents.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, recently gave a graduation address at his alma mater, Princeton University. He made the case that our character is defined not by the gifts we’re born with, but by the choices we make as we move through life.

Each of us is endowed with a unique combination of natural gifts and talents. We are likewise each born with the capacity of choice. The question is, how will you use those gifts?ย What you have or have not done up until now is unimportant. What matters is what you will do with the rest of your life.

Bezos asked a number of important questions about the life you author:

1. ย How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?

2. Will inertia be your guide or will you follow your passions?

3. Will you follow dogma or will you be original?

4. Will you choose a life of ease or a life of service and adventure?

5. Will you wilt under criticism or will you follow your convictions?

6. Will you bluff it out when you are wrong or will you apologize?

7. Will you guard your heart against rejection or will you act when you fall in love?

8. Will you play it safe or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

9. When it’s tough, will you give up or will you be relentless?

10. Will you be a cynic or will you be a builder?

11. Will you be clever at the expense of others or will you be kind?

Life will present you with countless opportunities to make choices in the days to come. Will you choose life? Will you challenge yourself? Will you magnify the gifts given to you and to others through your choices?

Time will tell, but forewarned is forearmed.

Have an absolutely fantastic week!

75 thoughts on “What matters more than your talents.

  1. Pingback: What matters more than your talents | this is my story, my life!

  2. Every thought or event that takes place in your life must be treated seperately – each is different – life is a challenge – do the best you can.
    Be honest with yourself and others – be kind and considerate – relax and enjoy yourself with family and friends.
    Have a look at http://neuo.wordpress.com


  3. Thank you for this post! It’s always important to keep questioning yourself. I often walk down the street looking at strangers and wondering ‘what motivates these people’ … and then make fake backstories up.


  4. This is definitely a refresher! A lot of people should read this because it seems like people forget that there is a lot more than talent. It’s one thing having a talent and it’s another when you achieve something with it.


  5. sinBalas

    Very interesting speech of the creator of amazon.com, leaving their mark on the independent teaching talents are gifts and opportunities, delivering life but not the same equal opportunity for all.


  6. yasdr

    I’ve been looking on the net for something similar like this. Good thing this doesn’t come off as cheesy or preachy. Thanks for the post. ๐Ÿ˜€


  7. This was an AMAZING post!!!! This really resonated with me, especially: “He made the case that our character is defined not by the gifts weโ€™re born with, but by the choices we make as we move through life.”

    Overall this was a great post and makes me think about what type of life I’m authoring!!


  8. Colin

    These are all questions to consider deeply, because the answers you come up with foreshadow the course of your life. I think there are two common threads in all of these questions: to care deeply about everything that you do, and to have a respect for others, which they deserve simply because they are a human being. Congrats on the freshly pressed status!


  9. It’s written at about a 5th grade reading level, but it’s full of brilliance. It’s a quick read, so if you have a little bit of extra time to jump into it, I’d definitely recommend it. And judging from a few of your posts I’ve read, it’s right up your alley, discussing life’s journey and the choices you make along the way to finding your Personal Legend.


  10. Definitely some great points of emphasis. People need to start accepting their choices as who they are. Even the bad ones. If we try to deny accountability for our choices, we will soon find that we have none simply because our own mind refuses to see them.


  11. Isabelle Kearney

    Congrats on being featured on Freshly Pressed! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and really look forward to your daily posts – thanks for being so inspiring and consistent.


  12. HippieCahier

    #11 is my favorite. Being kind is often misperceived as passive and weak, but it is always the right way. Thanks for the list.


    1. In my experience, when serving others is a central motivation I find myself taking adventures I never would have cooked up had I been motivated by self-concern. It’s an easy formula for an exciting life!


      1. Brad

        I agree with Gregg – I was a professional mountain guide for a number of years = adventure!, now i’m in the ‘service’ industry….the two quite naturally blend together into one that take me on adventures i’d never dreamed existed
        go “freshly pressed” gregg – where ever you go – congrats!


  13. Doug

    Wow the Freshly Pressed List,congratulations!
    I started reading this for your thoughts on business but have to admit you’ve become my morning coffee read. Thanks, onward and upward!


  14. Lara Mealor

    Your posts are always uplifting and great food for thought. Congrats on making the feshly pressed. Your blog needs to be shared with others!


  15. Kolya

    These are great questions and I look forward to considering each one. If I’m not satisfied with my answers, what a great starting point for change. Today’s opportunities begin now!


    1. BernieLuvsEllen

      What an inspiration! Truly, I choose to follow my dream of being a talk show host. Not saying I have the right talent for the job, but my life experience and choices have truly taught me what I can and cannot do.


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