iPads, iPhones, and iMacs spread the news of the death of Steve Jobs at age 56 on Wednesday. I was at a meeting in
Naperville, IL (a suburb) when an Associated Press alert on my iPhone gave me the news. I shared the information with the people I was with and e-mailed it to two others. Later, we saw candles lit and flowers laid out in front of the Jefferson Street Apple Store in Chicago . Steve Jobs redefined media and the tools we use to access it; that is the legacy he leaves us. Naperville
At some point all of us will leave a legacy for our families, friends and work colleagues. I was talking about it with a good friend who said most people don’t care what their legacy will be which began a very spirited debate about why people do the things they do at work. We got into the concept about whether people work to live or live to work. Certainly we know the place “work” had in the life of Steve Jobs. He discussed his career when he gave the 2005 Stanford commencement address and a couple of key concepts came out of that talk that are even more applicable to midlife professionals than newly-minted college graduates.
#1: Careers Make More Sense When You Look Back on Them—
Steve Jobs told the graduating class, “you cannot connect dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” How many times have you looked back on a career move and thought, “how did I end up here?” Later we realized we were right where we needed to be all along. We met people we needed to meet; had experiences we needed to have and learned essential things. It is hard sometimes to understand that when we’re in the thick of it. We've all experienced it; taking a backwards glance puts a lot of things (personal and professional) into perspective.
#2: You’ve Got To Find What You Love—
Jobs told the commencement audience, “I was lucky. I found what I loved to do quite early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parent’s garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion dollar company with over 4,000 employees.” Then he talked about getting very publicly fired. Talk about a backwards glance---he started NeXT and Pixar, met a woman he fell in love with and married. As he mentioned in #1 you cannot connect the dots looking forward. Apple purchased NeXT, the company he started and hired him back with a salary of $1 per year (he certainly didn’t need the money) and stock options. The rest, of course, is history.
#3: Living Your Own Life—
He advised the class to follow their hearts. “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.” Even if we live much longer than Steve Jobs, life is still too short not to step out and do some of the things you always wanted to do. There’s never a “right time”; you’re never going to have enough saved and the economy will never make you feel comfortable. You have to take that leap of faith. I remember leaving a corporate job with good pay, great benefits and fantastic co-workers to start my own business in 2001. As a one-income, single Mom with a 10-year-old, people thought I was crazy. I never worked harder or traveled more than I did those four years of entrepreneurial craziness. But the people I met, the experiences I had and the things I learned….Steve Jobs was right.