I still remember the feeling I had a month ago upon learning Steve Jobs passed away. The news, for some reason, made me extremely upset. And listening to his famous speech at Stanford, which embraced the ideals of creativity and pursuing careers that ignite lives, certainly did not alleviate my feelings of loss. I kept thinking about the purpose of a career and the balance between making ends meet and challenging ourselves with something greater.
What is your goal in life? Is it having a great career and making a significant impact on a whole culture? Or is it providing a good life for yourself and your family? Too often our perspectives are shortened because of our current situation. Unfortunately we tend to think of ourselves in the now instead of looking at the ‘big picture,’ ten years from now.
I stopped by a friend’s place the other evening. He’d recently flown home to visit his grandma who has been struggling with cancer. My friend told me, “no matter what bothers you in life, there is nothing worse than losing a family member. So whatever is annoying you at the moment, let it go and pursue that better place for you and your family.”
Still, I can’t shake off what Steve Jobs said about work and life. “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.” So where is your heart pointing you? And what if where our hearts long to roam isn’t the best place for us to be? I wish there were an answer. I know these questions occurred to millions in the days immediately after Steve’s death.
But a month on, I wonder how many people are actually still thinking about their careers after that few days of heavy reflection in the media and social networks.
Jobs also said, “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.” His contention was that wherever we are right now, faith can lead us to something better and greater. Maybe he meant, our faith or our heart could be that better place.
What do you do to pursue that better place in your life?
Here are some of the kernels of wisdom Steve left behind that strike me the most. Have you been inspired by this innovator?
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
“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.”
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
“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.”
“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.”