It was a shock when I turned on the TV today and saw that Steve Jobs had died. The last time he made a public appearance I thought for sure he was dying and that he didn’t have long to live. He had the look of a man who’s close to the end. He looked so tired. And now he’s gone to rest. R.I.P.
I know he did great things in the tech world, but more important to me is that he left behind a wisdom about how to have the best life you can, because he was such an original thinker, and he lived his life organically, following his gut and his heart. After school he enrolled at college in Portland, Oregon, but dropped out after a semester. This is what he had to say about that years later, in 2005, when addressing Stanford University: (all quotes are from The Stanford Report June 14 2005)
“I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and 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.” The one that interested him the most was calligraphy. “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”
He slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, returned coke bottles for food money, and walked 7 miles across town to the Hare Krishna temple every Sunday for a good meal. It wasn’t easy in some ways but he loved it. He took risks that many would think were irresponsible, but look where it led him. “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.”
This is what I’ll remember him for. It can be hard to trust your gut, because often it goes against what is generally accepted as responsible and sensible behavior. But what’s sensible to the logical brain often makes no sense at all to the heart, and the latter is where the power is, I’m sure of it. That’s where your creativity has wings. Jobs instinctively knew that.
If you want to read more of that address go to The Standford Report