Let me start with a question: if today were the last day of your life, would you still want to do what you are about to do today?
I recently had the privilege of viewing an exceptional commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple, and founder of Pixar Animation Studios. Jobs’s speech was first given at the Stanford University commencement in 2005, but via YouTube, I was quickly transported all the way to California and seated in the front row for his phenomenal presentation.
In a series of three stories, Jobs presents some deep questions, imparting pointed encouragement and knowledgeable advice. He claims that his best motivation for living life, and his most humbling conviction, is to remember that he will be dead soon. Each morning when he wakes up, Jobs looks in the mirror and asks himself if he’d still do what he is about to do that day, even if he knew it was his last. If the answer is “no” too many days in a row, he knows that something needs to be changed.
The reality that life eventually ends in death shouldn’t be depressing; it should rather motivate you to remember you have nothing to lose by pursuing what you love to do. Our time on earth is limited; don’t waste it by living someone else’s life. What good are you to the world in a job for which you don’t have passion, one that you don’t enjoy? Take risks. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
To be successful in your pursuit, you need to have faith that life will work out. At the age of thirty, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company that he founded. He claims it’s the best thing that ever happened to him; it placed him back into a spot of insecurity and made him dig down deeper into his storeroom of creativity. Out of it, he designed Next and Pixar. In a crazy turn of events, Apple bought Next and Jobs was placed right back to where he started: at the head of Apple. Looking back, each dot connected. However, Jobs was only successful, very successful, because he had the tenacity to keep looking for his adventure.
So, look at yourself in the mirror. Stop. Think. Decide. Do you love what you are doing? Enough to do it on your last day of life?
If the answer is yes, great! Keep doing it. If the answer is no, find a new path. Jobs offered the following advice: you must start by doing what you believe is great work. Find what you love. Keep looking. Don’t settle. “As with all matters of the heart,” says Jobs, “you’ll know when you find it.”
Feel free to watch the speech. It is about 15 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA