Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish: Words of Wisdom from Steve Jobs

Less than an hour ago, the media announced that Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, Pixar and NeXt, had died. He fought a long hard battle with cancer but didn’t stop working and innovating. In 2007 Apple’s iPhone was named Invention of the Year by Time Magazine. His company birthed even more iPhones after that. And we can’t forget the iMac, the iPod – pretty much anything with a small “i” in front of it were all from the mind of Steve.

But one thing he left behind was very low-tech: a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University in which he talked about living your best life and following your heart. It was only a month ago that Giles told me I needed to watch the YouTube video of the speech, but I found it much more interesting to read the transcript.

Here are some highlights from his speech that really resonated with me (emphasis mine):

Again, 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.

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.

…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.

…No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.

…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.

Thank you, Steve, for not settling, for having faith, courage, and most definitely a lot of moxie.

Macintosh, Apple, Steve Jobs
Sad Mac image courtesy hooping.org

Life Lessons and Solitaire

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of solitaire on my iPhone. I have a free app called Sol Free that has six different solitaire games. There’s Baker’s Game, which is particularly difficult at times, and Demon, which I often have better luck with but sometimes it kicks my ass. Spiderette is very similar to the Spider Solitaire found on computers running Windows, but it’s much easier on my iPhone app than it’s ever been on Windows.

This morning as I was playing Spiderette, it occurred to me that in order to win at solitaire, whether it was Demon or Baker’s or whatever, I had to let go of the logical, methodical approach. With Baker’s, you can only stack the cards and move them in suited, sequential order – none of this “put the 9 of Clubs on the 10 of Diamonds.” Trying to get to the nearest Ace so I can start building up a suit doesn’t always lead to me winning the game. Nor does it help to tackle one suit in one fell swoop. Just because it’s easy to access the 4 through the 9 of Hearts doesn’t mean that’s going to be the key to winning the game. No, it might be better to stack the 9 and the 8 first, then see what other cards – and suits – I have access to as a result of that move.

Everyone knows I love a good analogy, so here it comes: I think approaching life’s challenges is very similar. Sometimes logic just doesn’t work. Sometimes methodically plugging away at a task, a relationship, or a job doesn’t reap the reward you want or need. Sometimes you have to look at your cards and decide that even though Plan A makes a lot of sense intellectually, it doesn’t make sense emotionally, and therefore Plan B is the best course of action.

Life doesn’t offer an Undo button, like my iPhone app does. But as long as you keep playing, there’s always a chance to start over.

Moxie’s Resolutions for Everyone Else: 2010 Edition

As is the tradition on this blog for several years running, I have compiled my list of 2010 resolutions…but not for me. I am perfect and only need to resolve to have compassion for those who haven’t achieved perfection. Everyone else, however – you have a hell of a lot of work to do.

  1. Learn the value of silence. (Cell phone users) Yes, it’s tempting to get on your Droid or iPhone or Crackberry every time you’re out and there’s nothing or no one actively working to entertain you. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about this because I’m perfect. (cough cough) There’s something to be said for having a moment of tranquility where all gadgets are off and you’re just observing the world around you. The Internet is not going anywhere, so give yourself at least five minutes every hour to just be still.
  2. Stop Christmas Creep, Valentine’s Day Invasion and Easter Edge-out. (Major retailers) Can we just enjoy holidays without being rushed to prepare for the next one? I give Nordstrom kudos for not succumbing to the Creep this Christmas.
  3. Improve my service and coverage area. (AT&T) I don’t understand this company. They want everyone to buy an iPhone, upgrade their iPhones, get any other smartphone they are selling, and yet they complain that iPhone users who stream movies and other video are screwing up the network. Their solution? Get iPhone users to use wifi as much as possible. Um, hello? How about putting the proper infrastructure in place before releasing advanced technology? Oh crap, there I go making sense again. No wonder I don’t have a job.
  4. Stop whining and be with the consequences of being famous. (Miley Cyrus and other celebs who claim to have no privacy) Get over yourselves already. As soon as you decided you wanted to be an actor or singer or professional athlete, you signed up for the possibility that you would a) make it to the big time and b) become a target for the tabloids. You don’t want this life? Go find a job in retail and shut the hell up.
  5. Find a great marketing agency that will come up with a campaign to remind people of the joy of writing – and sending – letters. (USPS) I’m trying to write more notes and letters to people. It gives me joy to think someone will open their mailbox to see a funny card, newsy note or heartfelt letter, instead of a pile of bills and junk mail. The US Postal Service is already struggling financially, so why not play up the sentimental side of letter writing/receiving and start a campaign where folks are encouraged to write one letter every 10 days? It would help improve literacy too, I’d bet.
  6. Start up Chick-Fil-A franchises in Chicago. (Chick-Fil-A) This resolution is a shout-out for T-Wizzle, who is a big fan of Chick-Fil-A and gets mad at me whenever I mention I went there for a sammich. I don’t understand why the chain hasn’t expanded into the Chicago market. They like chicken up there. And sweet tea, too.
  7. Know my limits when it comes to home repair and be humble enough to call in professional repair personnel. (my apartment management and others who DIY it) I could go on for days about all the craptastic fix-it jobs I’ve seen at my building. Pops also has a tendency to fix things in a half-assed way, but fortunately he’s learning the limits of his expertise in areas such as plumbing. Rule of thumb: If you have to use more than 6 inches of duct tape to fix something, then you don’t know what the hell you’re doing and need to call in a professional.
  8. Stop assuming that everyone over the age of 30 knows absolutely nothing about technology. (Generation Y and younger) Don’t roll your eyes at me when I ask a question about tethering or live streaming, and don’t talk to me as if I am completely ignorant about computers. If it wasn’t for my generation and the baby boomers, you wouldn’t have even had computers in your first grade classroom. Learn to appreciate your elders and what they have made possible.
  9. Stop assuming that everyone under the age of 30 is an arrogant jackass. (Generation X, baby boomers and older) Yes, this is a tough one. While Gen Y may be incredibly self-absorbed at times, they are also showing themselves to be committed to making the world a better place. Teach them the rules, then show them how to break them in a way that no one gets hurt.
  10. Break up with food additives. (Campbell’s, Kraft, and other major food manufacturers) I am tired of reading 2-inch long food labels listing all the chemicals and other crap in a can of soup. I get that you want people to be repeat buyers of your products, but can’t you do that without adding MSG, high fructose corn syrup, GMOs and other garbage? Explore new ways of making delicious food without all the extra gunk.

Any resolutions you’d like to give someone else?

View from the Top, Courtesy of JetBlue and My iPhone

Possibly Utah, maybe Colorado
Possibly Utah, maybe Colorado

View from window seat - Colorado, I think

View from window seat – Colorado, I think
If I was into winter sports, these snow covered mountains would make me very happy.
If I was into winter sports, these snow covered mountains would make me very happy.