Steve Job’s motivational speeches are as famous as Apple’s products. One particularly well-documented speech given to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005 covered failure, mortality and hope.
Steve Jobs broke his speech down into three areas – his decision to quit college, life after being kicked out of Apple and being diagnosed with cancer. All seemingly dire things to reflect upon, but they demonstrate Jobs’ determination to find the positive in all things.
The first section covered his decision to drop out of college, but he began by explaining that he was given up for adoption by his biological mother.
However his birth-mother insisted to Jobs’ adoptive parents that they must send him to college before she gave him to them.
The couple agreed and promised her that someday he would go.
Jobs said: “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 OK. 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 interesting.
He explained how after taking the decision to leave college, he became involved in calligraphy lessons – which one day would ultimately influence how Mac computers, and their imitators, would look and function.
“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.”
His second tale was about “love and loss” – the loss he felt when he left Apple in 1985, but how that led to him finding his wife, starting a family and ultimately returning to Apple.
“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. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith,” Jobs explained.
“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 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.”
Finally Steve Jobs explained in intimate detail the day he was diagnosed with cancer, detailing the moment his doctors cried when they realised it was a rare form that they could cure.
“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. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is 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.”
Read the full text: Jobs speech on the Stanford website