September 2, 2019 0

Steve Jobs: How To Live Before You Die LIFE-CHANGING


I’m honored to be with you today for
your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world truth be told
I never graduated from college and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a
college graduation today I want to tell you three stories from my life that’s it
no big deal just three stories the first story is
about connecting the dots I dropped out of Reed College after the first six
months but then stayed around as a drop in for another 18 months or so before I
really quit so why did I drop out it started before I was born my biological
mother was a young unwed graduate student and she decided to put me up for
adoption she felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates
so everything was all set for me to be adopted at Birth by a lawyer and his
wife except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they
really wanted a girl so my parents who were on a waiting list got a call in the
middle of the night asking we’ve got an unexpected baby boy do you want him they
said of course my biological mother found out later that my mother had never
graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high
school she refused to sign the final adoption papers she only relented a few
months later when my parents promised that I would go to college this was the
start in my life and 17 years later I did go to college but I naively chose a
college that was almost as expensive as Stanford and all of my working-class
parents savings were being spent on my college tuition after six months I
couldn’t see the value in it I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life
and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out and
here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life so I
decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay it was pretty
scary at the time but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever
made the minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that
didn’t interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more
interesting it wasn’t all romantic I didn’t have a dorm room
so I slept on the floor in friends rooms I returned coke bottles for the 5 cent
deposits to buy food with and I would walk the seven miles across town every
Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hari Krishna temple I loved it
and much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition
turned out to be priceless later on let me give you one example Reed College at
that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country
throughout the campus every poster every label on every drawer was beautifully
hand calligraphed because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal
classes I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this I learned
about serif and sans-serif typefaces about varying the amount of space
between different letter combinations about what makes great typography great
it was beautiful historical artistically subtle in a way that science can’t
capture and I found it fascinating none of this had even a hope of any practical
application in my life but 10 years later when we were designing the first
Macintosh computer it all came back to me and we designed it all into the Mac
it was the first computer with beautiful typography if I had never dropped in on
that single course in college the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces
or proportionally spaced fonts and since windows just copied the Mac it’s likely
that no person a computer would have them if I had never dropped out I would have
never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personal computers might not
have the wonderful typography that they do of course it was impossible to
connect the dots looking forward when I was in college but it was very very
clear looking backwards ten years later again 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 because believing that the 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 my
second story is about love and loss I was lucky I found what I loved to do
early in life woz and I started Apple in my parent’s garage when I was 20 we
worked hard and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a
garage into a two billion dollar company with over 4,000 employees we just
released our finest creation the Macintosh a year earlier and I just
turned 30 and then I got fired how can you get fired from a company you started
well as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the
company with me and for the first year or so things went well but then our
visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out when
we did our Board of Directors sided with him and so at 30 I was out and very
publicly out what had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone and it was
devastating I really didn’t know what to do for a few months I felt that I had
let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down that I had dropped
the baton as it was being passed to me I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and
tried to apologize for screwing up so badly I was a very public failure
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’ve been rejected but I was still in love and so I decided to
start over I didn’t see it then but it turned out that getting fired from Apple
was the best thing that could have ever happened to me
the heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a
beginner again less sure about everything it freed me to enter one of
the most creative periods of my life during the next five years I started a
company named next another company named Pixar and fell in love with an amazing
woman who would become my wife Pixar went on to create the world’s first
computer animated feature film Toy Story and is now the most successful animation
studio in the world in a remarkable turn of events Apple bought next and I
returned to Apple and the technology we developed it next is at the heart of
Apple’s current Renaissance and Laureen and I have a wonderful family together
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from
Apple it was awful tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it sometime
life sometimes life’s gonna hit 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 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
and 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 don’t settle my third story is about death when I was
17 I read a quote that went something like if you live each day as if it was
your last someday you’ll most certainly be right it made an impression on me and
since then for the past 33 years I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and
asked myself if today were the last day of my life what 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 all 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 about a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer I had a scan at 7:30 in the
morning and it clearly showed a tumor on my
pancreas I didn’t even know what a pancreas was the doctors told me this
was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable and that I should
expect to live no longer than three to six months my doctor advised me to go
home and get my affairs in order which is doctors code for prepare to die it
means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the
next 10 years to tell them in just a few months it means to make sure everything
is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family it
means to say your goodbyes I live with that diagnosis all day later
that evening I had a biopsy where they stuck an endoscope down my throat
through my stomach and into my intestines put a needle into my pancreas
and got a few cells from the tumor I was sedated but my wife who was there
told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctor started
crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that
is curable with surgery I had the surgery and thankfully I’m fine now this was the closest I’ve been to facing
death and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades having lived
through it I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when
death was a useful but purely intellectual concept 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 as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of
life its 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 by Dogma which is living with the results of other
people’s thinking don’t let the noise of others 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 when I was young there was an amazing
publication called the Whole Earth Catalog which was one of the Bible’s of
my generation it was created by a fellow named Stuart brand not far from here in
Menlo Park and he brought it to life with his poetic touch this was in the
late 60s before personal computers and desktop publishing so it was all made
with typewriters scissors and Polaroid cameras it was sort of like Google and
paperback form 35 years before Google came along it was idealistic overflowing
with neat tools and great notions Stuart and his team put out several issues of
the Whole Earth Catalog and then when it had run its course they put out a final
issue it was the mid-1970s and I was your age
on the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early-morning
country road the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so
adventurous beneath it were the words stay hungry stay foolish it was their
farewell message as they signed off stay hungry stay foolish and I have always
wished that for myself and now as you graduate to begin anew I wish that for
you stay hungry stay foolish thank you all very much you the preceding program is copyrighted by
Stanford University please visit us at stanford.edu

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