Four days ago when I read that Steve Jobs has passed away, my mind went blank for a bit. I had expected him to live on for a few more decades, especially since he had just stepped down from his CEO post at Apple in late August.
I had expected Jobs to create a few more revolutionary products that will wow my pants off until I hit old age. Throughout my life, Jobs had made me hanker after the iMac, iPod, iPhone and now iPad. And now, to think that there may never be another genius like him was a shock.
The irony was that I had written about him briefly in my editor’s letter for the October issue. In fact, it was probably the nth time I mentioned Apple in all my columns. It’s funny how life works.
Many tributes poured in for Jobs that entire day. Most of the updates found on social networks were some of Jobs’ quotes. Reading through them were inspiring. It was impressive how someone whom I have never met and who did not know of my existence made me reevaluate my life that day.
I texted a few friends that morning to share with them my thoughts and one of them managed to annoy me that with her comments. But one made me laughed so much that day because our conversation diverged into other unrelated topics.
Anyway, I just spent 15 minutes reading Jobs’ commencement address delivered in 2005 to the graduates of Stanford and his speech struck a poignant chord in me.
Here are a few quotes that stood out for me.
On trusting that life will somehow work out for you:
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
On finding what you love:
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… 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.
On living life as if each day were your last:
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.
And the quote that hit me the hardest that morning is the one in the image above.
What Jobs said was and still is true. I truly believe in the values he shared that day.
If you spent your life trying to live up to other people’s expectations or trying to please them, you lose sight of who you really are and what truly makes you happy. If you live in fear and constantly worrying about other people’s opinions of you, you will never be happy because you will always wonder about the “what ifs”.
Remember, your happiness comes first. Everything else is secondary.