Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

STEVEN PAUL JOBS, the CEO, chairman and co-founder of Apple Inc and former CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, died yesterday from a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

If you have ever watched Toy Story, owned an Apple Mac computer, an iPod or an iPhone, or followed the advancements in computer technology, your life has been touched by Steve Jobs. And if you look at the news feeds on Facebook or Twitter right now, you will see how one life was able to change the lives of so many.

But he didn’t  just use his incredible visions to invent, create and conquer the world. He communicated his inspirational insight to encourage people to find their heartfelt vocations in life and shared his realisations of death.

The following video of his commencement speech at Stanford University in California, filmed in June 2005, shows Steve Jobs speaking frankly about dreams, love, life and death. He told three stories of his life and illustrated how he lived with unwavering belief and passion.

Heart is the leader

His speech had a continuous thread that ran throughout: he was an embodiment of resilience. He turned his troubled times into triumphs. Whatever events he faced in life, he always looked inwards and strived to understand his heart and intuitions. He made sure his actions and decisions stemmed from this truthful place.

By following his heart, he found that he directed himself towards making choices that led to fulfilling his desires. For example, he dropped out of Reed College after six months. And he explained that the benefit of doing this was that he didn’t have to waste anymore time attending classes that he didn’t enjoy and pursue subjects that really interested him.

As a result, he chose to take a Calligraphy class, to learn about various typefaces, which he described as “beautiful” and that he loved. Ten years later, when he found himself putting together the first ever Macintosh computer, he used the knowledge that he had acquired from the Calligraphy class to develop the first computer with beautiful typography.

If he had continued with college in a bid to satisfy the opinions and judgements of others, he would never have learnt this skill that served him so well later on and changed the face of technology.

He poignantly said, “…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

It’s your responsibility

It’s also apparent that Jobs always took responsibility for his life and his actions; he never sought to blame external people or sources for the consequences of his life. And this is a common characteristic found in successful entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates.

Stephen R. Covey, author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ also said:

“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”                                                                                                                                                                                                               (Covey 2004, p.71)

What was most striking was his viewpoint on death. Instead of fearing or avoiding the ultimate end, he acknowledged it fully and used it as a motivation for living. In fact, he described it as, “…the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. ” Even though cancer took his life in the end, he fought with it long and hard, living his life to the fullest before it was taken away.

Take 15 minutes to listen to Steve Job’s guidance to aspiring graduates on living a passionate life.

He gave us more than just his revolutionary inventions: his products advanced technology and his wisdom enhances lives.

Inspirational excerpts from the talk:

“You’ve got to find what you love.”

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, “If you live each day as if it were your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right.”

“I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I do what I’m 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 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 and 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.”

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is, how it should be. Because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. 

Right now, the new is you. But some day, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped in dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Image by Jonathan Mark Long

Steve Jobs lives on through his creations and his guidance.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs 2003 (Wall Street Journal)

RIP Steve Jobs  (24 February 1955 –  5 October 5 2011)

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8 thoughts on “Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

  1. Nice article, Monica! He really was an inspiring personality! xx Ines

  2. Monica Sarkar says:

    Thank you! Yes, he really was. His speech was awe-inspiring.

  3. Zita says:

    This is a lovely article Monica, I just watched it and thought…wow, someone that is teaching us to use our heart and intuition! Amazing too how one life could have touched so many, in such a creative and inspiring way.

    • Monica Sarkar says:

      Thank you, Zita! Yes, it’s remarkable how insightful he was about death and how it inspired him to live. As a result, I think he’s in a peaceful place now.

  4. Arindam says:

    Nice post Monica…. Inspiring one!!!!

  5. I like your post, have you considered adding and RSS feed feature? That will allow me to get automatic updates of new sites. If you set up notifications via RSS, please email me! I will favorite your layout for now. Again Excellent post!

  6. Good post, Love it. Keep it up. Thanks again.

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