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Connecting the dots: Steve Jobs' wisdom

October 7, 2011

Tags: Reminiscence, memoir writing, wisdom, advice, personal history

Read Steve Jobs' commencement address at Stanford (2005) to get a sense of what drove him. To quote him: "Again, 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."

And on a major early failure: "...it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. 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.

On facing death: "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."

That commencement address provides as succinct and inspiring a personal history as I've ever read. You can also watch it on video.

Thanks to Lisa Smith Youngs for reminding me of this.

See also:
Smithsonian oral history interview with Steve Jobs

A Tribute to a Great Artist: Steve Jobs (Henry Adams, Smithsonian, 10-6-11). Through mastering calligraphy in college, Jobs learned to think like an artist

Biographer: Why Jobs finally opened up (Charles Cooper, CBS News, 10-6-11). "I wanted my kids to know me," Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. Publication date on the biography has been pushed up to Oct. 24.