Below is a condensed portion of the Commencement speech given at Stanford University on June 12, 2005 by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios. (He died in October 2011).
His message is a powerful reminder that the time is now to follow our heart.
You can watch him give the speech in its entirety in the video included.
The following abbreviated excerpt is taken at about the 8 minute mark in the video:
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’ll 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.
I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
- No one wants to die.
- Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share.
- No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.
- It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
- 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.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch.
It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
When it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age.
On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words:
“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Think about what you would say to inspire others in a commencement speech and write it down. See what knowledge and wisdom you can apply from what you wrote into your own life today!