June 20, 2005

Lessons From an Extraordinary Life

"You've got to find what you love." This is the advice Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently delivered to the Stanford class of 2005 on their graduation day. In a simple speech, Jobs talked about three life stories and the lessons he learnt from them. Here are select quotes:

On love and loss

At age 30, Jobs was thrown out of the company he had started and built along with friend Steve Wozniak. He went on and founded NeXT computer company which was later bought by Apple and Jobs re-instated as its CEO twelve years after he was ousted.
I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

On death

Last year Jobs was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and was given three to six months to live. It was discovered later that it was a rare pancreatic cancer that was non-fatal. He survived after a surgery.
for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. 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.

from Stanford Report: 'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

Audio of Steve Jobs' Speech

Past Orange Hues entries on Apple and Steve Jobs
Jan 2004: The Great Apple Turnaround?
Nov 2004: Steve Jobs: Excelling in the Art
Feb 2005: Why I work for Apple