Whose Dream Are You Pursuing?
OK, so I’m not a weird Steve Jobs nerd; I only kind of am. I’ll never own a PC again, but I made that decision long before I’d ever heard of Jobs.
A few months ago, someone posted Steve Jobs’ commencement speech from Stanford somewhere. Probably on Twitter. Probably I was supposed to be working on anything else. It’s posted above.
If you don’t watch the video, please consider this excerpt from a man who dropped out of college, bought food using deposit money from soda cans, and was fired from the company that he built:
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. 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 until you find it. Don’t settle.
I’m too cynical to get wrapped up in “feel-good for feel-good’s sake,” I really am. And yet, I truly believe that with perseverance comes reward. You can’t just wait for life to run at you and then complain when it knocks you over. You can take responsibility, seeing possibility even in failure.
We’ve all experienced a good bit of being beaten up by situations fully out of our control. Or at least that’s how it seems at the time. It usually turns out that we could’ve done something to avoid that situation or at least to have made it hurt less. And in every other case, that shitty situation was supposed to happen. If it hadn’t, we would’ve just … stagnated.
So I carry Jobs’ message with me because kindness and concern are sorely underrated—and sadly rare. I treasure it as much as the words of a family member who reminds me how far I’ve come, a client’s warm enthusiasm for a job well done, and a friend recalling how I once declared, “Life has to be worth more than this,” and then went in pursuit of that worth.
It is sad to think how much more Jobs most likely would’ve accomplished had he lived a longer life, and yet almost in a premonitory way, he seemed to know he had no time to lose:
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 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.