Video: Steve Jobs shares lessons on life, loss, love -- and death
Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday at 56, was the definition of a visionary, a technological trailblazer who transformed one industry after another, including computers, smartphones, music and movies. And, of course, Apple's co-founder transformed our everyday lives with gadgets like the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
He also battled pancreatic cancer and needed a liver transplant. Those brushes with mortality helped shape his views of life and death, a perspective he shared in a remarkable 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University.
It wasn't a "rah-rah, the-world-is-your-oyster, go-get-'em-tiger" kind of speech that ends with a standing ovation and caps thrown in the air.
It was quite the opposite, underscored by a somber tension. Jobs urged the graduates to remember that the future is uncertain -- death could be just around the corner -- and there was no time to waste on an unfulfilling career.
-- "When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like, 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you will most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me. And since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
-- "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."
Jobs recalled when he was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, and when the doctor told him to "get his affairs in order." Then Jobs shared these words of wisdom.
"No one wants to die ... and yet, death is the destination we all share. Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent."
He added: "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."
His parting words: "Stay hungry, stay foolish."
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2007. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / European Pressphoto Agency