The short 15 minute video below is from the commencement address Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, gave to the graduating class at Stanford University in 2005.
It is a fascinating insight into the motives and inspiration behind a remarkable and brilliant man. He covers 3 main areas – making sense of life, love and loss and death.
The video for me raises as many questions as it answers.
Here are some questions it raises for me:
- Jobs was actually adopted.
How different would the world have been if his mother had exercised her right to choose and chosen to abort him?
Thank goodness she didn’t!
- He talks about how you can only connect the dots of life by going backwards and not forward. He had to drop out of college and ended up collecting 5 cents coke bottles to buy food with only one full meal a week by walking 7 miles to the local Hare Krishna temple. Yet, as he says, “much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity turned out to be priceless later on.” That really is big picture thinking and about having the faith to believe that there is a purpose behind all that happens in my life – even those parts that are painful and don’t on the surface appear to make sense.
Joseph, from the Old Testament, paralleling this sentiment, was able to turn to his brothers many years after they had betrayed him and he had become Prime Minister of Egypt, to say in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
How much am I willing to suspend the need to have all the answers in my life and move forward trusting that one day it will all make sense?
- The pain of being fired from the company he himself had created. The key for him though was to carry on doing what he loved to do. Everyone is not necessarily privileged enough to have the choice to do what they love to do and yet at the same time Jobs chose to sacrifice and go out of his way to enable that to happen.
How much am I prepared to get out of my comfort zone to pursue my dreams and ambitions?
- Jobs’ guiding quote from the age of 17 was ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right.” This is a great principle of Carpe Diem – or seize the day.
How much am I making of all the opportunities and privileges before me?
It is so easy to complain and focus on what you don’t have rather than being grateful for what you do have and make the most of every opportunity.
Some great insights.
And yet watching the video, I can’t help but feeling that something is missing. As helpful and insightful as the talk is, there is no eternal perspective. That is all the more poignant as Jobs died in October 2011 age 56 from complications of pancreatic cancer.
I find myself turning to a prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:12 that says – “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
And maybe that is the point. As brilliant as Steve Jobs was, and as fantastic the products he and his company created were and are (I personally use many of them), they are not enough and eventually become ordinary. Another quote from Jobs has the seed of this idea, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.”
Our hearts are longing to sing to something that has substance and will last. Technology, wonderful tool as it is, cannot do that on its own. I remember when I was 12 years old in 1976 (those with insight will be able to calculate how old I am!) and had a cousin returning to India, drop in to London on his way back from the Olympics in Montreal. I remember being amazed by his LED watch that glowed fluorescent red and told you the time. He had paid $100 (in today’s prices, probably ten times that) for it and today it would not even be worth 1 cent! Technology so quickly loses its novelty and becomes so ordinary, but there is One who is transcendent over time and technology!
I give the poet George Herbert (1593-1633) the final word, “I live to show his power who once did bring, first my joy to weep and now my griefs to sing.”
What issues and questions does this video raise for you?