Monday, January 9, 2012

How Steve Jobs taught me how to live in 2012: A New Year's Blog

I don’t know much about Steve. I only know him through the most amazing phone I have ever used in my entire life. The phone was very useful- takes good enough photos, videos, easy to access notes (which I use a lot especially when I think of ideas to blog about) and recognizes Chinese characters (something that is very useful to me in my line of work). I also know that Steve was good at creating impactful presentations- something that I have always tried to achieve whenever I pitch my ideas or do trainings.

Steve Jobs was famous for his "One more thing...", which is actually the most important part of his presentations.
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A few days before 2012, I happened to chance upon his video talking in front of graduating Stanford students recorded last 2005. I wasn’t a viral-video-watcher type of person but something with the video made me click on the play button and listen to Steve. (I wasn’t even a real fan that time (not just yet…) but the video was very inviting, as if it was something that I needed to watch during that time.)

The video never failed me.

It was the only video I played again and again. I thought, that time, Steve had just given me a wonderful gift- something that will become useful for me for the coming new year.

Steve talked about death. He said, “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 by talking about death, Steve taught me, along with the millions of people who heard his speech or viewed this video or read the transcript, how to live my life- a few days before 2012.

At the start of each day, I always try to ask myself, “What will I do differently today knowing it is already my last day?” It was a bitter pill to swallow at first. I had always wanted to talk about life, and think about life. I love life! But the wisdom I got from Steve, from his speech, allowed me to embrace life more, by embracing death.

It is through this simple question that I used to ask myself each day since the start of the year that I was able to focus more on what matters to me about my life and what would have I done differently each day knowing that I will have no chance to do them tomorrow.

I thank Steve for this wisdom. Indeed, to embrace death is to embrace life. And accepting the certainty of death makes every single moment of living a golden opportunity to do the things our hearts speak of the most.

For Steve, “…Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

“Your time is limited”, he said, “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.”

Steve also said, "You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your 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. 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."

Before he ended the speech, he left everyone with another golden nugget, something that I felt was a sort of a “follow through” for “Think different.”, the campaign he initiated after his return to Apple Computer in 1997.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

The back part of the final issue of The Whole Earth Catalog that Steve Jobs referred to during his speech at Stanford last 2005. It left its readers the quote, "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
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Thank you, Steve.

To see the full transcript of Steve's speech, please click here.

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