Very rarely, if ever, do I feel compelled to publicly mourn the death of a prominent person or celebrity. Somehow though, Steve Jobs’ death hits hard, and obviously, too soon. I remember resisting the idea of becoming a Mac person, of not wanting a new Apple computer my dad was so excitedly willing to give me as a freshman in college. Once I hopped on that train, however slowly (reluctantly switching from Walkman to iPod in 2006), I’ve been a committed Apple consumer ever since. Steve Jobs was a visionary who did so much in developing and reviving the Apple brand – creating products and convincing absurdly brand-loyal customers to stick with him through all these new innovations. I was proud to be one of the few raising my hand in a college class as an Apple devotee.
I’ve watched this commencement speech at Stanford University several times, and it always chokes me up. Even if I fall into ruts and find myself doubting what kind of future I’ll have, it’s so uplifting to hear his words.
This quote has always felt incredibly powerful to me:
“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.”