Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

The below is an excerpt of Steve Job's speech that I found very inspirational and that I read again and again when I feel mentally drained and cursing my life away.

Connect the dots and live to the fullest

The Big Read:I want to tell you three stories from my life. Just three stories. The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of college after the first six months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months before I really quit. I could not see the value in it. I dropped out and trusted it would all work out. It was 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 ones that looked more interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room. I returned Coke bottles for the 5c deposits to buy food, and I would walk the 11km across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

For example, I decided to take a calligraphy course. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography they have.

Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very clear looking back 10 years later. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, karma, whatever - because believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.

My second story is about love and loss. I was lucky.

I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz (Steve Wozniak ) and I started Apple in my parents' garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years, Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2-billion company with more than 4000 employees.

We'd just released our finest creation, the Macintosh, a year earlier, and I'd just turned 30, and then I got fired.

How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew, we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so, things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge, and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him and, at 30, I was very publicly out. What had been the focus of my adult life was gone, and it was devastating. I was a public failure. But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did, so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired was the best thing that could happen 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 my most creative periods.

During the next five years I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world's first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now a very successful animation studio.

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT and I returned to Apple. The technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance, and Lorene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced 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 work as it is for your lovers. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like "If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you'll most certainly be right". It made an impression, and since then, I ask myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" Whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important thing I've encountered to help me make the big choices, because almost everything - all external expectations, pride, fear of embarrassment or failure - falls away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About six years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors told me it was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months.

No one wants to die, and yet, death is the destination we all share. And that is as it should be, because death is the best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. 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 other opinion drown your inner voice, heart and intuition .

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

The above pic is from here

* This is an edited version of the speech Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005 at a graduation ceremony


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