On Work, Life and Death - A Message from Steve Jobs

by Melissa Brunner

I don't profess to be a tech junkie who knows the complete rundown of Steve Jobs life and career. I don't own an actual iPhone, but I do have a smart phone with a touch screen; I don't own an iPod but I do have a digital music player; the one Apple product I do have is an iPad - and look at all the new tablet products on the market it's spawned!

As news of Steve Jobs death spread Wednesday night, I started seeing all sorts of quotes he'd said over the years. I'm most struck by a speech that has been played many times today. It's a commencement address to Standford that Steve Jobs delivered in 2005. It's a bit unorthodox in that he tells the graduates how he dropped out of college and it turned out to be a great thing for him, but consider the lessons he goes on to share. First:

"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."

How many times do we question why a certain incident happened in our lives or second-guessed a decision? Steve Jobs shared how he ended up sitting in on a calligraphy class after formally dropping out of college. All those different type fonts you have to choose from on your computer's word processing program are the result of Jobs landing in that class. He also spoke of being fired from Apple. We may not understand why something is happening at the time, but look back and see how what is in the past has shaped where you are today.


"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."

Don't we all get frustrated with our jobs from time to time?! I admit there are days I do! But, at the end of the day, when I sit back and think about what I do for a living, I don't think there's a job I'd rather have. However, this quote makes me think about our recent experience with the Big Dream Gathering. What is something I'd really like to do? And if I really want to do it, don't settle for not at least trying.


"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..... 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."

I can just hear Steve Jobs brainstorming about this cool idea where people could go to a virtual place on their computer and pick and choose which songs they wanted and get them on this device smaller than a deck of cards so they could take their own mixture of music with them anywhere. Naysayers probably told him no one would really want to do that. What if he'd listened to them? Oh, we'd still have portable music but perhaps not like we do today.

Certainly we can't always throw caution to the wind and act irresponsibly, but we also can't be so afraid of taking risks that we don't move forward; we can't become so complacent that we never strive to improve. Your head and your heart, working together, won't steer you wrong.

Thanks, Steve Jobs, for listening to your heart and not settling, so that your dots connected in a way that made innovations that touched all of our lives.





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