Stay hungry, stay foolish…

October 10, 2011

I’ve been thinking about it since Thursday and wanted to take a moment to post something about Steve Job’s passing.

I found out that Steve Jobs had passed away just under a week ago while eating breakfast and scanning the headlines using my iPhone, which has become part of my morning routine over the last few years. It was of course incredibly sad news and shocking despite knowing that Steve had been unwell for some time. I think it is fair to say that we all realised this was going to happen, especially following his resignation as CEO of Apple back in August but I don’t think anyone expected it to happen quite so soon. It was perhaps poetic that I along with many others learned of his passing while using one of Apple’s iconic devices.

I was of course saddened to learn of his death but not having known the man personally I didn’t feel the emotional connection that some people seem to have felt, judging by the numerous tweets and blogs posts that I have subsequently read. I did however spend my drive that morning on my way to work thinking about Steve Jobs passing. I thought about the legacy he leaves behind and the impact he has made on the technology landscape. He was multifaceted. A perfectionist and by all accounts could be very difficult to work with or work for but he was unquestionably driven and his drive has to be the biggest factor in pushing him to succeed and create the innovations that he will be forever be remembered for. I did not however intend for this post to simply be a shrine to Steve Jobs – there are already plenty of those available elsewhere, no doubt written far more eloquently than I could possibly manage.

While driving home that evening I turned on the radio and caught the second half of his 2005 Stanford speech. I do remember hearing this speech before only this time it felt even more poignant and personal and I have to admit I actually had a tear in my eye towards the end. I don’t think I have ever shed a tear due to the passing of a company CEO or somebody in the public eye but this was a little different. When you listen to Steve talk about life and death you forget who is speaking and just hear a universal message that applies to us all. The video is posted at the end of this post and the whole speech is moving but here are a couple of extracts I felt were particularly poignant:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, 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.

“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. 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. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

“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.

– Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

The sentiment is both incredibly profound and completely true and has been at the back of my mind since hearing it. It makes me think about my own life and making the most of the time I have. We each have a responsibility to ensure our own individual happiness as nobody else can do this for us.

Stay hungry, stay foolish and thanks for everything Steve.

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About the author

UK based photographer Mark J P.