The first time I encountered this fallen hero, Steve Jobs was at an interview, right after my graduation. As a policy, this organisation gave interviewees a preliminary exam based on general knowledge. “Who is the founder of Apple?”. Read one of the questions. I didn´t own a MacBook, or the iPod, or the iPhone, or the iPad or knew anything to do with ITunes, so why was I to care who the founder was?
Your guess is as good as mine, I left the question blank. After the interview I google searched the question and I found this name “Steve Jobs”. I briefly read about him and finally I got used to his name as a brand name every time I saw any Apple product. His, is a blueprint legacy that will live on, many years after he is gone.
As the norm in the world, when famous people die, then we make news about them and celebrate their achievements. Such was yesterday, Steve Jobs made news all over the world, celebrated even by those who knew about him for the first time as a result of the news on his death. Most Facebook status updates with condolences and celebratory remarks.
One thing that touched me was his commencement speech that he gave at Stanford University in 2005. Here is the speech in print and the same as an audio version. Read or listen to it before further reading this blog post. It was one speech that indeed summed up his life lessons.
Yesterday evening together with three of my friends, Annet, Lisa and John, we sat for a cup of tea and reflected on this speech and what it meant to us. Reflecting back at our own lives, we realised, yes it was such a wake up call and how we can use the three stories he told to serve as life lessons to better our lives. It is never too late to pause, reflect and start again.
“It was very inspiring, challenged me to make good use of my time and of course the bitter reality that we hold all the keys to our life. We don´t achieve our full potential by the limitation of our mental attitude,” said John. He related this to, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. 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.” Said Steve Jobs.
We all had a turning point. As for Lisa, she remarked on the importance of honouring our intuition. This is what kinda gives us the zeal to follow our dreams no matter the circumstances. “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.” Retorted Steve Jobs.
We all realised we had so much lessons we could learn from his speech. “ Many of us are living a lie, day in day out, we are faced with fear. We are not thinking of how we can become innovators, instead we are happy living to accomplish what others have already started for us. The challenge is, even in our small ways we can still be agents of change, if only we stopped and saw life as an opportunity that presents itself once. We should never allow the world to distract us from reaching our goals,” said Annet quoting Steve Jobs caution on the same.
“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.”
A commercial break, then second cup of tea and I had a chance to make my reflections on the same. I mentioned, these remarks touched me, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Said Steve Jobs.
Many of us are living our lives occupied instead of pursuing our passions, doing what we love! You go to work simply because you have to pay your bills and you have needs or a family to fend for. Many of us are stuck on bad relationships, bad jobs, bad everything, but how many of us want to take the risk of starting again? We are so burdened by the expectations of being successful such that the joys of today bypass us without knowing.
I reflected on the many risks I have taken over years and just like Steve Jobs, joining the dots backwards, I can confidently report those were the best decisions I have ever made! I do not regret a minute of it at all. At only 24, just after two years of working, I made a decision to resign from my job, with a deep desire to get a bigger challenge, to move cities and go back to school. I was quitting at what I will say was my prime experience at my job, I loved it so much, I had a great boss and great colleagues,I had an audience to die for, I had a good salary and Baraka FM, Mombasa was my second home. I loved and enjoyed my work.
When I presented my resignation letter, my boss was disappointed with me, my colleagues feared for me, and my friends were worried on my behalf, only my parents believed with me. My last day on-air, I cried, not sure of the next move, but deep within me, I knew, it was time!!!!
“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.” Said Steve Jobs.
Though not a natural death, that is the same way I look at it now, my resignation paved way for someone else to be employed. Steve Jobs, is gone, he has been cleared away and so will, you and I, and sooner or later the new will come and take over. The question is, “If I died today, what headlines would the event generate? Have I done anything unique, or significant, or lasting? Have you?”
“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer” ― Douglas Adams