Many of us are writing about Steve Jobs & still reeling from the shock of his death. He was such a huge part of our lives yet I hardly knew anything about him. I was directed to his Stanford University commencement address delivered on June 12, 2005. He talked about three stories from his own life. I was moved by his choices.
CHOOSING HOW I SEE MYSELF
He was born to an unwed mother. He was put up for adoption and rejected by the first family chosen for him. They wanted a girl. His biological mom wanted her son raised by educated people. The Jobs were not college educated. They really wanted this baby and eventually bio-mom relented when they promised her baby would attend college. So he began his journey in a lower middle class family.
I believe that babies are conscious and understand what is happening in their environment. I believe they absorb and store all the words, feelings and reactions of those around them. This affects how they see themselves and their world. If my premise is correct, then he could have chosen to see himself as a throw away, unacceptable, the wrong gender, not worthy. He could have acted out, alienated others, or even chosen a life of crime. Many children see themselves this way especially if they were born to single moms and often live in a pity potty of resentment and pain. Most children who begin life this way don’t grow up to be Steve Jobs. What made him the exception? How did he become this APPLE man who chose to believe in himself, to dream big, trust his instincts, think outside the box and go boldly where no-one else had gone? What did he receive in his childhood that supported these choices?
I believe in was LOVE and CONSISTENCY. His parents didn’t need to be educated to give him this. Just kind and patient and loving and conscious of the example they were setting for their brilliant son. A child learns by watching what their parents do. A child doesn’t turn out to be this extraordinary unless he is loved and valued. I don’t believe in accidents. I think he ended up with the right family and circumstances to thrive. He resonated with being loved and cherished. He didn’t resonate with being a disappointment, failure or reject.
Steve said in his address:” all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. 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”…”
In his first 20 yrs we see a pattern that reflects what he resonated with: I TRUST MYSELF, I HAVE THE COURAGE TO GROW, I AM CREATIVE, I APPRECIATE MYSELF AND OTHERS, I LOVE AND AM LOVED, I AM CONFIDENT.
CHOOSING TO REBOUND FROM TRAUMA
His address continues with the next story: “And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? … So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating…I really didn’t know what to do for a few months… I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down…but something slowly began to dawn on me-I still loved what I did…I had been rejected but I was still in love and so I decided to start over”.
CHOOSING MY SILVER LINING
“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… and I fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple.”
CHOOSING TO DO WHAT I LOVE
“It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that 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 your work as it is for your lovers. 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.”
Some new resonance: MY CHALLENGES ARE A GIFT , I CAN REINVENT MYSELF, I HAVE FAITH& PURPOSE, I AM OPTIMISTIC, I AM FREE TO BE EXCELLENT, I KEEP TRYING.
CHOOSING TO BE MY UNIQUE SELF
We all know about Steve’s battle with cancer that eventually took his life. In the final story of his commencement address he speaks about his mortality:
“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:.. Death is life’s change agent, your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. 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. In his final story his resonance grew to include: I FOLLOW MY HEART AND INTUITION, I LISTEN TO MY VOICE, LIFE IS CHANGE& I CHOOSE TO BE FULLY ALIVE.
Many things will be written about Steve Jobs’ technological brilliance. I am most impressed with the choices he made throughout his life. His life could have turned out very differently. At every crossroad he made a choice. His choices defined who he became just as it does for all of us. A talk show host is famous for asking each guest the following question: When you arrive in heaven what would you like God to say to you? I think Steve Jobs would like to hear: WELL DONE STEVE, you made excellent choices!