"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Stanford University has posted the transcript of Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs' commencement speech.
It's a historical moment of self-revelation of utter importance to anyone who wants to understand what drives the man credited with revolutionizing computing with the first user-focused personal computer.
It's clear that following his close encounter with his own mortality, Jobs is both galvanised and determined. It seems that Jobs hopes that by sharing a little of his own inner life he will inspire others in the world to follow their inner voice and accomplish great - or simply personally rewarding - things.
Beginning his speech, he promises students "just three stories" from his life.
Join the dots
He talks about the journey of his life, which "started before I was born". He calls this "joining the dots".
In essence he's observing the clarity that appears to people when they look back and realise seemingly random decisions have led them down a particular course, or to a particular moment. The journey isn't always, "romantic", he reveals.
"I returned Coke bottles for the five cents deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple," he said, adding, "I loved it".
"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," he explains.
Love is the answer
In both work and personal life he admonishes students to follow their own hearts, their own intuition, "you've got to find what you love", he said. In work, "the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work."
When at the age of thirty Jobs was fired from Apple, he went through a hard time, but looking back - or "joining the dots" - the harsh lesson was "the best thing for him", he said.
"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."
Jobs' many accomplishments since that time are well-recorded, and he now once again leads the company he helped create, but for Jobs, dreams, death and destiny are partners, he suggests.
Mirror in the bathroom
"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," he said.
Humans are born with limited life expectancy, so Jobs doesn't want Stanford's students to settle for anything other than that which their inner voice advises them.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life", he said, advising his audience to keep listening to that inner voice, to "have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." Perhaps with a retrospective joining of the dots in mind he observes: "They (heart and intuition) somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish"
Ending his speech - which is essential reading for anyone inspired or curious about Apple, Pixar, Next and those company's products; anyone curious about Steve Jobs, or anyone seeking insight from somebody who "thinks different", Jobs refers back to late sixties counterculture.
Sixties culture changed a lot in California. The explosion of intellectual and artistic ideas that emerged in the period reverberated globally, and Jobs learned many lessons then.
He refers to a well-respected and best-selling magazine of the time, The Whole Earth Catalog, which sold millions of copies and became the unofficial counterculture handbook, winning the National Book Award.
On its final issue, that publication printed an image on its back page, with a caption that said: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish".
He shared this phrase with his audience, and offered it as his parting wish to Stanford's graduates.Image Credit: MacInteractive.
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