CEO of Apple and Pixar animation studios, Steve Jobs gave a commencement speech at Stanford University to about 5000 people today. Jobs focused on three main topics; connecting the dots of life, love and loss, and death. These three topics are what he used as the main driving force for his work and personal goals, but the secret was to never look too far into the future.
“Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.” Jobs said, as he explained how the inspiration of Mac’s typography came from a calligraphy course he stumbled in on while being a “drop in” student at Reed University.
“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.” Jobs said.
This type of mentality allowed Jobs to focus on the present and achieve goals day by day, rather than worry about how every decision he makes will turn out in the future. The speech motivates the graduates to focus on what they love and put everything they have into it by channeling their own personal interests into work.
“I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life.” Jobs started off. Finding what you love to do and applying it to your work is the key to success. But success doesn’t come without loss as Jobs describes.
“How can you get fired from a company you started?” Jobs asked. “…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.”
Although Jobs had lost all he had worked for his entire adult life, the thought occurred to him- “I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit.” He adds. “And so I decided to start over.” As Jobs explains, “…it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.” So through the loss of Apple, Jobs was able to free himself from the stress of success and focus once more on what he loved.
“During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar…” Pixar, which is now the most successful animation studio in the world, created the first computer animated motion picture, Toy Story.
Failure is one of the key components to success, because without it, development is impossible. It allows the loss of something great to the foundation of something even greater. Yet there is no greater loss than death.
“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,” said Jobs. Explaining to the graduates how many fear death, while he uses it as his greatest motivation. By knowing that any day may be the last, one can channel that fear and that sense of urgency into the passion of creativity. All the problems of day to day life are drowned out by the reality of death.
Jobs lives by a very simple quote, a quote that he wishes unto the graduating class of 2005.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
In a world of choices, chaos, and influence, finding what you love may seem impossible. Work hard, never give up, and live each day like it was your last and in the midst of the chaos, you may just find exactly what you weren’t looking for.