Steve Jobs told Stanford University graduates to do what they love, and if they have not found it yet, then they need to keep looking.
The 50 year-old Jobs gave the commencement address with three main stories to an energetic crowd on a beautiful sunny California afternoon. Jobs who is the CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, is a self-made success.
Adopted at a young age, Jobs birth mother made his adopting parents promise that he would go to college. He did in fact attend Reed College in Portland Oregon but dropped out 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,” said Jobs.
It didn’t take him long to figure out what he loved doing. Jobs and Steve Wozniak proceeded to start Apple in the garage owned by Job’s parents. In just 10 years the company went from just two men in a garage to a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees.
But just as things were going well, at the age of 30 and just after the release of the Macintosh, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple.
Jobs for a period of time lost what he loved. However he told graduates that this was the best thing that could have happened to him. He said it was good to be back on the bottom instead of at the top. While he didn’t know it at the time, being fired helped him tremendously as it allowed him to be more creative.
“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,” said Jobs.
This is where he could see the dots connect. Even when things don’t seem to make sense now looking forward, they will make sense looking back. Everything that happened was for a reason and it forced him to continually improve and allowed him to be more creative. Shortly after being fired he started NeXT a computer company in which much of the technology he would later take back to Apple.
The third story he told was about death.
Last year Jobs was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. The doctor fortunately was wrong. It turned out to be a form of pancreatic cancer that was curable and Jobs is fine now. But, he said that it was another eye opening experience. While Jobs said that he had always tried to live his life as if each day were his last. In this experience it really became real.
“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.”
Within the three stories all of the stories had the same general message. The overwhelming message is that it is important to do what you love, never stop living life to the fullest and that death is the great equalizer because everyone will face death at come point.
Jobs said, “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.”
As he concluded the speech he wished the graduates well and told them to “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”