In 2005, Steve Jobs gave the Stanford commencement address he entitled How to Live Before You Die. When I heard of his death yesterday, I watched and listened to see what I could learn from this genius who changed the world.
I encourage you to watch the 15 minute video yourself, but wanted to summarize the three main points he made and illustrated with stories from his life.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, but only when you’re looking backward.”
Jobs spoke of dropping out of Reed College after six months, but then dropping in on some classes that interested him. One of those was a calligraphy class, which he found fascinating yet not necessarily relevant to his future…until 10 years later when he was designing the Macintosh computer and used what he had learned in the class to create the clean, classy typography which became a trademark of Apple products.
Believing that your dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference.
“Getting fired from Apple was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.”
Part of Jobs’ amazing story was being fired from the company he created when the Board of Directors sided with the partner with whom he’d had a falling out. What could have destroyed him actually rekindled his passion for innovation.
He went on to start a company named NeXT, another company called Pixar and fell in love with the woman who would later become his wife. He’s convinced that the only thing that kept him going was his love for what he was doing.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.
“If you live each day as if it will be your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
Jobs spoke of how hearing this quote at a young age inspired him to take inventory of his life by daily asking himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” When the answer was “no” too many days in a row, he knew he needed to make a change.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose…Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Jobs ended his speech with another quote that inspired him over the years:
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Thank you Steve Jobs for staying hungry and foolish, for dismissing the naysayers along your journey and for doing what you loved: inventing unthinkable technology that made the world a better (and so much cooler!) place.