The Death of a Modern Genius

Steve Jobs has sadly lost his battle with cancer and the world has lost a modern genius.

I am not a "techie" but there is no denying the impact that Steve Jobs has had on the world. Most of us are aware of his accomplishments but what impresses me most is who Steve Jobs the man was.

As the news spreads about his death, the cable news shows are dedicating their time to talk about the man behind the iPhone, iPad and iPod. As I watched a tape of him addressing a college graduation back in 2005, I felt motivated by listening to what drove Steve Jobs to do what he did.

He talked about risk and how there really is no reason why one should not follow their hearts and intuition. What struck me most was the following quote.

“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.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

To me, life is short; there doesn't seem to be enough time in one day so I choose to live in the moment and live it fully.

Another quote from the same speech:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

My biggest fear in life is to be on my deathbed and be disappointed that I didn't get the chance to do _____. This is why I have always grabbed opportunities that have come my way even when others around me didn't believe in me. Listening to Steve Jobs talk just reinforced what I know inside- you must always listen to that inner voice and above all, be who you were meant to be and do what you were meant to do.

Perhaps the most profound thing that Steve Jobs said in this speech is the following. This is something that I plan to read again and again until it is something that I can refer to in those moments of self-doubt. It is what I want my children to know and what I feel I have tried to teach them. It is how I have lived my life so far and everytime I have tried to "fit in" it is always with negative consequences.

“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.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

Steve Jobs lead an interesting life and left a legacy of innovation. His words of "wisdom" are ones that others have said in different ways but that doesn't make them any less meaningful.

RIP Steve Jobs.

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