Thursday, October 6, 2011

What we can learn from Steve Jobs

Today I pre-ordered my iPhone 4S. I have been anxiously awaiting the launch of the iPhone 5 but alas it appears that it will not happen for a while. And then tonight I read the news - the death of Steve Jobs. I know that I should not be surprised but I was...and saddened at the loss of someone who was a true innovator and leader.

As I read an article about his death that also detailed some of the lesser known facts about his life, something struck me. I did not realize that this man who by all accounts was brilliant, forward-thinking and driven did not take a typical path. For instance, he dropped out of college after his first year and he quit his job at Atari designing computer games to backpack through India, also indulging in mind-altering drugs. From there, he met up with the other original founders of Apple and the rest is history. But the point is that he did not follow that straight line to get there; he let his passion and drive point the way to his future and ultimately his success.

In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered the commencement speech at Stanford stating:

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do," he told the Stanford grads in 2005.

"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. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."

Part of me wonders if Steve and I were buddies in a former life because this is my mantra, as well. "Don't settle." Those are words that I try to live by. Life is too short and prescious to do otherwise. But I know so many people who do settle - people who are talented, smart and have a lot to offer. It shows up in so many ways: work, personal relationships, etc. Sometimes the best things are worth taking a risk. Those risks could include accepting less money for a job that is more satisfying, walking away from a disfunctional relationship, saying NO to taking on that next project in order to fulfill personal needs...the list goes on forever.

Steve knew this and he lived it. And sadly his life has been cut short. But he didn't settle. And neither should you. Be willing to take chances and change what isn't working. The returns are so much greater than the risks in the long run.