Friday, October 07, 2011

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Knew What Mattered

Many of us search for fulfillment and satisfaction in life. Some of us chase after leisure, material gains, etc. This very often leads to us going to work on Monday and looking forward to the weekend. We do this week in and week out, hoping to earn that extra dollar that would finally allow us to exit this rat race.

What many of us are not aware is that we entered the race as soon as we were born. Our society has conditioned us to chase after success. However, because success is hard to measure tangibly, and even harder to represent visually or verbally, we were given the most convenient representation of all, the visual kind. If you ask any 12 year-old, what they want to become when they grow up and why, chances are, they would reply that they want to make lots of money. Granted, they may be too young to realize, but very often society equates success and money. Big houses, big cars, beautiful wives. These are the things that are often equated with success.

In fact, many of us still long after these things. We have an entire wishlist of things that we desire. And why not? We are taught in economics that "more is better". For me, I think that is precisely the problem. As human animals, that is our instinct. We always crave what we can't have. We are destined to chase after what is not available to us our whole lives. Or are we?

I think Steve Jobs realized at a very  young age that none of this mattered. That is because he started with nothing. When you have nothing, it is a lot easier to appreciate the things around you. I seriously doubt that Steve was after money or any material gains throughout his career. He simply did what he thought was meaningful, and did his best in it.

The past few days, I have read many a tribute for Steve, and most of what I see are just quotes that I have read before, listened to, and many of them are from the Stanford commencement speech. Here are some of the rarer ones, with hopes that all of us can transcend beyond material desires and find that wonderful something, just as Steve had. Steve may have died young, but I think he died without regrets.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”

“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.”
Hat tip to Salvatore Dali.

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