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Steve Jobs and the Benefits of Being Bold

I’m a PC. Lame, huh? My experience with Apple products is limited to owning various incarnations of the iPod and using Snow Leopard for a few months while I interned at a recording studio. Like everyone who hasn’t lived under a rock the last decade, however, I’ve witnessed the meteoric comeback and dominance of Apple Inc. (Honestly, does every person on earth own an iPhone now?)

Learn from Steve

When news broke a few days ago that Apple wunderkind Steve Jobs had died of pancreatic cancer, I knew it was going to be a big deal. It’s been the talk of Facebook, Google, TV, etc. Amongst all the commentary and discussion about Apple’s future in the stock market, the thing that’s stuck out to me (and many others) the most is the resurfacing of Jobs’ commencement speech for the 2005 graduating class of Stanford University. Watching the video, you realize that not only was Jobs a technologic genius and master of hype, but a pretty decent motivational speaker. If you haven’t seen it or read the transcript, the basic gist of Job’s speech is to follow your gut and do what you love to do regardless of what anyone else has to say. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the speech. It’s a big chunk, but carries a big message:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. 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. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

If you know anything about Jobs’ history – how he dropped out of college, once redeemed bottles of Coke for 5 cents a pop to buy food, and started Apple in his parent’s garage — you’d know that Jobs was speaking from experience. He really did follow his gut, no matter how crazy it seemed to do so at the time. The question is, how would Jobs’ life had been if he’d taken the safe route? Would we be listening to Eminem on our Discmans? Would Bill Gates control the world completely? We’ll never know, but we do know that Jobs broke free from the status quo and changed his own life, and the lives of millions of others, by following his gut instincts.

Are you chasing your dreams or doing what others have deemed to be the right things to do? Stuck in a crummy job or taking classes you have no interest in? Sure, Jobs was a billionaire CEO, but he did it for the love of the game. In his speech, he wasn’t suggesting to follow the path he himself had taken, but for each of us to follow our own. Whether you love fixing cars, selling real estate or teaching anthropology, the choice is yours and yours alone to pursue what you really love.

Have you seen the Ben Stiller comedy “Zoolander”? In the film, Derek Zoolander quarrels with his father for pursuing a career as a male model rather than working in the coal mines like the rest of his family. In the end, Derek decides to continue on his path and ends up saving the Prime Minister of Malaysia and opening The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too in the process.

Whether you’re a male model or a technological genius, the message is the same: Do what you want and be who you want to be. That’s confidence in the trust sense of the word. No matter how easy or difficult your end goal is, the point is that you’re working to achieve it. In this way, there’s really no difference between a guy who’s happy running a bodega and one who’s happy playing Major League Baseball (other than millions of dollars).

Check out Jobs’ speech if you haven’t already. Whether you’re looking for words of advice or reinforcement of your own convictions, you’ll definitely gain something from it. Jobs’ story is evidence of the benefits of throwing caution to the wind. All those CD’s were taking up space anyway.

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About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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