Steve Jobs was a brilliant visionary and a strong charismatic leader. He was the founder of one of the biggest technology companies Apple Inc. He also founded NeXT and was a major shareholder in Pixar. He was a force to reckon with. He changed the face of technology, because of him, it was no longer about just functionality but also about beauty. And above all, he taught mankind what stood beyond the confines of ordinary thinking.
Steve Jobs 2005 speech at Stanford University graduation ceremony is one of the greatest motivational speeches ever given in recent times. Most of the below quotes are taken from his insightful fifteen-minute speech, remaining from his various interviews.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.
Jobs was asked to leave Apple Inc., the company he had created and worked for ten years. But he didn't let that break his soul and went on to find the other two companies and focused his attention on his personal life. That's what he is trying to suggest here, not to lose faith in yourself. Don't let go of a positive outlook even when you are at your lowest. Keep on working with a trust that you will eventually bounce back.
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.
It's not easy to take important decisions in life. The uncertainty of future, of the outcomes, can be daunting. All you can do is let your instincts and faith drive you. Choose what your gut says even if it doesn't seem to make any sense at that time. As he says, seemingly random disconnected events can be an important part of your life, which can only be known once the events are over. Jobs after dropping out the classes assigned, he sat for the one which truly fascinated him – Calligraphy, even though it didn't seem to be contributing in any way to his future at that time. However, years later, he reflected, the aesthetic interface of his products was definitely in some way born out of those beautiful fonts he learned in school.
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected.
He had an eye for the details and was an adamant perfectionist and wouldn't compromise on quality. This is a great lesson for today's business owners, and innovators, who in obsession to be richer sometimes can turn a blind eye to the quality of their products and services.
That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
The greatest, most successful people talk about the concept of minimalism and simplicity. There is no telling how much we can achieve if we eliminate all the redundant troubles from our life. Not just mentally but even professionally, if we put all our energies into one goal and work towards it with a focussed mind, as he says, you can move mountains. But it sounds easier than it actually is. It takes a lot of willpower and discipline not to get carried away by a multitude of fruitless yet engrossing things that are around us.
Things don't have to change the world to be important.
This is a quite contradictory statement to his earlier 'make a dent in the universe'. But it shows the personal and emotional growth a person goes through as he ages. When we are younger, we start our careers with lofty aspirations and grand ideals. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, life makes us humble and does the same with our dreams. So, was the case with Jobs too.
He realized a great truth eventually – something significant to someone need not be a revolutionary overall. Even if it's not a groundbreaking innovation, even if it's just a small service, it could still be very significant for that one person who is benefitting from it.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Steve's devices were known for its sleek design, friendlier fonts and innovative graphic interphase. However, the thing that stuck with the users was its easy functionality. The Macintosh in 1984 was the first PC to come up with a mouse, which was easier to use compared to its substitute keyboard.
Design is not just that pleases are superficial senses but its incomplete until it can give results. Today's marketing business can gain much from this. Of course, the appearance is what attracts the customer, but they won't stay for long until your services are actually providing any value to them.
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.
Contrary to what many of us believe, creativity is not a talent or a skill. In fact, if you observe closely, it is the default state of our mind. Humans are born to be creative; they are wired to invent and innovate. Our brain is a highly receptive organ that imbibes all the ideas it perceives in the surrounding. These ideas morph, merge and evolve in our mind and the degree of this process decides the uniqueness of the "new" idea that is born out of it. In other words, our mind is constantly taking in the multiple pieces of information the world is providing us, and it is connecting one piece with the other and creating a new concept. All we need to do is give ourselves some time for contemplation, for our mind to make sense of whatever it witnessed.
I'm an optimist in the sense that I believe humans are noble and honorable, and some of them are really smart.
He talks about having faith in others and their abilities and to be optimistic about their efforts.
Although he didn't have a good reputation when it comes to being with people. He never tolerated inadequacy among his employees and business partners. He wasn't an engineer or a designer, but he knew their significance and valued the ones who had true skills like these. He knew the future of his career and the world depended on such people.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
When we think of a leader, we generally get the images of successful business owners, CEO's, politicians etc. But a leader does not have to be the topmost guy. He or she can be anyone with any kind of role or career as long as they are doing aspiring work. If you can innovate and update your method of working, you are creating your followers.
You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.
Passion is very important for success. You have to have a burning desire to achieve something, to bring a positive change somewhere. Because the path to success is tough, its beset with difficulties all along. So, when you came across any hurdle, if you are not in love with your work, you will give up. Passion and love for work not only guarantee commitment for a long haul but also makes the efforts enjoyable.
Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.
You should be able to listen to your heart even when you are bombarded with opinions from all the sides. Don't conform and let your uniqueness get diminished into the crowd. The world might need your opinions and perspective.
Computers themselves, and software yet to be developed, will revolutionize the way we learn.
He was correct about this. Technology has been changing the way we learn even since before the pandemic hit. Videos, smart classes, cloud-based storage and virtual and augmented reality are changing the face of education industry.
Our goal is to make the best devices in the world, not to be the biggest.
The businesses or for that matter, any career should be customer-driven. The products and services we are provided should keep on evolving to make the user experience better. We should think about retaining a customer by providing the best quality services rather than worrying about the expanse of your clientele. It's more profitable to have a few loyal and satisfied customers than many grudging ones.
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.
He always preached to look at death in a positive light. We should take motivation from the concept of inevitable death. Since we are already going to die one day, there is no reason to play safe and not take risks. When you have such a short life, why you want to waste it living a disappointing life and not doing what you really want.
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.
To be truly happy with your life, fully contended, you need to fill your life with people you love. And the same rule applies to your work too. You need to find the thing that interests you. Find a purpose in your life that you fall in love with. It is pivotal to lead a fulfilled life.
I believe life is an intelligent thing: that things aren't random.
Sometimes you need to have faith in the things around you. You need to believe that the force that runs the universe is in your favour and whatever happens, is for your own good. You might not be able to see it now, but one day you will be amazed at how everything worked out.
I think the things you regret most in life are the things you didn't do.
So don't let any opportunity or any talent go to waste. Make use of all the possibilities that life offers you. It's okay if you try and fail badly, at least you will be free of any regret.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish
Keep a hunger for knowledge alive, don't let anything extinguish your curiosity. It will drive you to knock on doors that can open into something wonderful.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
The limited-time that you are given on this planet is a special gift and shouldn't be wasted on things that don't make you happy. Due to medical conditions, Steve Jobs died at the age of 56, that is at least 20 years less than the average life span of an American man. But he achieved more than any ordinary person could. He explored every option that life presented in front of him and left with, hopefully, no regrets. He lived a big life with an even bigger personality that would influence generations.
The last one, the most powerful quote which I came across- it encapsulates everything the man stood for, everything that should be learnt for him-
"When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."
Co-author: Shreya Arya
A digital marketing enthusiast with experience in HR and hospital management, Shreya has wide interests ranging from philosophy, psychology to latest trends in automation. She is also a freelance content writer and loves lending beautiful words to ideas and feelings.