Steve Jobs died yesterday. By the time my corner of the world woke up to the news this morning, the tributes had already begun to flood in from the four corners of a globe he did so much to connect.
I don't own a single Apple product, although I regularly use my husband's (and I guess what's his is mine). But I do have an enduring memory of watching a 15 minute youtube clip of the address Jobs gave to Standford University graduates in 2005. The BBC have extracted some of my favourite parts of his speech for their "In His Own Words" feature:
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.
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.
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. 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. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
There's no denying how inspirational those words are, and his death adds a new poignancy to his ability to appreciate the brevity of life. But I'm also inspired by the context of these words - wrapped up in the three short stories he chooses to share about his life.
The stories are a testament to the fact that even the most inspirational lives are ultimately a string of growing processes. There's no shame in doing the job that takes us a step closer to where we feel we should be; it's natural to have to 'work our way to the top' - whatever 'the top' represents for us as individuals or societies.
I'm a big fan of aspiration, but I don't want to miss out on achieving my dreams because I wasn't prepared to do the hard work - the behind the scenes, menial or boring bits. If I treat those things as a stage in the adventure instead of turning my nose up at them, I give myself the opportunity to find my way to something as fulfilling for me as creating Apple was for its founder.