Decoding Steve Jobs Message in His Famous Speech at Stanford Commencement Address
Video of Steve Jobs’ Commencement address on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down — that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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.
My third story is about death.
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.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, 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. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. 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.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then 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.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.
The above video and text were taken from the famous Steve Jobs commencement address in 2005, a year after he was first diagnosed with cancer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a candid speech to graduating students at Stanford University. This speech was famous and known as the stay hungry stay foolish speech. Jobs were inspiring millions of people when the video being shared on YouTube and other cross platform website and apps. Even when I fully watched the videos on 2017, 12 years later, I still being inspired by his speech. As such, I was curious to decode the message behind the speech.
Decoding #1: The Past – Connecting the dots
So here we go. I am going to decode the hidden message of the speech that probably not many people are thinking and have thought about it. The speech contain three lesson. Three message. First is the “connecting the dots”. The message is to tell people about his past. His early life where he was dropped out of Reeds College and he took the calligraphy course class, a course that has no practical application or even any relation to his life. He just loves calligraphy. He loves good beautiful typography. But the truly hidden message here is that you need to find out what you love. Doing something that you like instead of doing something that against your will and heart. Also it is about doing something that is not what your best at. Learn something new. And it was proven when ten years later Jobs incorporated what he had learned in his calligraphy class into the design of the first Macintosh computer. “It was the first computer with beautiful typography…You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Connecting the dots is something that you need to do once in your lifetime. In his speech, Jobs had even connecting the dots to the times before he was born, when his father and mother had not been married yet! (He was still just another a cement sperm at that time I guess…). You need to review your past. Try to explore your past. Try to remember all of those good old days when you were just a baby or a kid or a teenager or a college students etc. Sit back. Close your eyes. Go back to your past. And just memorized everything that had happened to you. You will find many good and bad things happened to you. Many of your paradigm today. Your mindset. Your thinking of how the world works are being planted during your golden ages, between 0-8 years, this is when your subconscious mind was open to any information, teachings, language, wisdom and other that will make up your mindset and paradigm later in your future. Find any mental barrier or any mental block that could have against your success later in the future. This is the hidden message. You need to explore your past in order to create a better future. Removes all of your barriers and mental block which was created in your past.
One of the reasons we are not sure or we have not succeeded in realizing our life design is a disease called mental barriers or mental block. What is a mental block? A mental block is a part of you that prevents you from progressing. If it is still unclear for you, consider the following illustration. For example, you planned to open a business. When you have prepared everything well and just waiting for you to take action, this part of yourself will somehow “Whispered” to you, affect you, raise doubts about yourself and eventually make your plan fail to be implemented. Just like when I started to open an internet cafe and noodle stalls business, my mental block was always overwhelmed with doubts and worries that the business would not progress or developed and eventually indeed that is what was happened. Always remember that you are what you think!
Mental block is a negative belief (negative thought program) that works at the subconscious level, you did not realize that you had this mental block, this program sabotages all the potential that you have. Mental block is a mental/psychological barrier that envelops a person’s mind. It can arise from your mistaken thoughts about the actual abilities you have.
Negative mental blocking can prevent a person from achieving their life design for example, wealth, position, career, marriage, sports achievements, etc. You need to seriously find all mental blocks within yourself and give a new meaning to them as soon as you manage to recognize it. These obstacles often sabotage or destroy your self-confidence and destabilize it.
Since the day we were born, we are being programmed by a number of things mostly through our parents and the environment surround us. Don’t be surprised if we go to a country that has four languages like in Malaysia, where my friend’s child, since the age of six years can already use four different languages at once namely Malay, English, Chinese and Indian language! The child is not just a genius, but indeed the condition of his surroundings environment which forces him to adapt and install the memory of the language program at the golden age (0-8 years) of the child. At this golden age, our subconscious minds are open to any words, information, action, environment etc that later creates our paradigm. Well, usually the mental block is also one of the parts recorded when we grow from childhood to adulthood.
Usually our mental block is recorded since we were a small children through the words or actions of our parents or the environment around us. Examples of mental block are as follows:
- Money is a source of evil!
- The rich are mostly criminals!
- Money does not come down from the sky nor grow from trees!
- Don’t be an entrepreneur, too many risks, just be like your parents, work as an employee and enjoy a monthly salary and pension fund!
- Money makes you greedy!
Yep, that is just a several example of mental block that will prevent us, without knowing it, to achieve a goal or our life design. The part of our self that prevents us from advancing. Mental block is also often referred to as the negative side of yourself. This is said because mental blocks always conflict with whatever you do. Any! Like a pole, your mind and mental block are the opposite, the north pole and the south pole that you will never be able to meet.
Sometimes, maybe in your childhood age, you have experiencing a bad experiences with your rich neighbor. Sometimes you think that your rich neighbor is an arrogant, cocky, sucks person. Somehow in your subconscious level, you install a program that you do not want to be rich because you are afraid to look just like your rich neighbor. This mental image, creates your future self images. And guess what, that is what you became in the future! God always give an answer “Your wish is My command“.
The mental block is also works and act as a “Servo Mechanism” in your life. Servo mechanism means some coincident or event that always comes automatically and repeatedly to your life, whether it is good or bad.
For example, you have a positive servo mechanism in getting a parking lot in a mall or market place, you always get a good strategic parking spot near the mall entry, and somehow, this positive servo mechanism will always works whenever you enter the mall and you did always get the perfect parking lot. That is a sample of a positive servo mechanism.
Another one is negative servo mechanism. Think it like this, you have a negative servo mechanism in your subconscious level that you always think that whatever amount of money you get, you will always end up loosing it. Have you ever had that kind of servo mechanism? You get 10,000 Dollar, but the money will always find it’s way to get out of your pocket or bank account! When you get a high income, suddenly all the situation and conditions force you to release all of those money that you earn. No matter how much money you earn, you will always end up broke! That is a sample of negative servo mechanism. Another example of negative servo mechanism is related with laziness in doing sport or exercise. You always find excuses whenever you wanted to do an exercise. Somehow your circumstances did not support you when you decided to go out and do some exercises, whether it was raining, or whether it was you feel not good, or many kind of excuse and blocking circumstances trying to block your want in doing exercises. There is a lot of servo mechanism that you need to identify in your life.
Therefore to help make it easier for you to achieve your life goals and your life design, you must be able to find out what is your mental block or your negative servo mechanism and try to redefine and revalue it. There are many ways and training that you can follow to find your mental block or negative servo mechanism and to program a new software, more positive mindset so that you can more easily reach your life design in the future.
Get to know the various mental blocks and negative servo mechanism that can prevent you from becoming more successful. Mental block and negative servo mechanism is like a computer virus that eats away memory or mindset in our brain. Over time, if the virus is not removed through an anti-virus program, then your brain will become slow and cause it to “Hang” and eventually break down! You do not want those kind of virus stay forever in your mind, right? Get loose of all of your mental block and negative servo mechanism and focus on what you want in your life design. Dare to ask something bigger than you can ever imagine before. Do not limit yourself. Clean your mind from all negative believe that is against your life design. Act as if you have already receive your life design. Involved your emotions, a strong emotions when you act as if you already receive your life design is. You must be able to feel, touch, smell and involve all of your five sensory when doing this kind of act. This is also one of the “Hacking of God” mechanism besides the gratitude in advance method.
Decoding #2: Embrace Your Failure and Love What You Do (The 4P Code) – Love and Loss
When the first time I saw Steve’s video, I am truly amazed and inspired, his words was just flying around my head, it was so inspiring that I was dive deep down into Steve’s mind and trying to better understand what was the hidden secret, the hidden message in this one of greatest speech. In lesson number 2, Steve was telling the story on how he was lucky and grateful that he found what he loves to do when he was still young, at 20 years of age. Within 10 years, Apple were sky rocketing into a $2 billion company with more than 4,000 employees. But then, things started to failing, Steve decision to hire a professional CEO to work with him has created a fatal tragedy. Steve was out from Apple. The company that he grows and nurture from zero. It was a public failure. Steve had to go out from a company that he build. He was being sent off by the people who he hired and thinks will grow the company. It was a tragic failure. Not everyone can handled this kind of failure. But instead of sorrowing, Steve moves on and continued his life by creating NeXT and Pixar, a company that so success, Apple decided to buy it and it was the ‘come back’ moment for Steve to Apple.
The hidden message of this part is that you need to embrace your failure. You need to find and keep doing what you love. It was called passion, patience, persistence nd performance. The 4P key’s to success. What exactly is meant by Passion? I read a book by Rene Suhardono’s and according to her, passion is not something you can do or do very very well, but passion is what you enjoy and you like it when you do it. So not necessarily the field that we master is our passion, our true passion is in everything that we really like and love very much when we do it.
Passion will come when we take great action to speed up the process of manifestation. Without passion, the action process will feel plain. Some people asked me, which one should I look for first? My purpose? Or is it my passion? For me, clearly that purpose will always be the first thing to look for in our lives. Either way, it’s never been easier to find answers to these two questions. Some people also succeeded in finding their passion first and then connecting with their future goals. This is also good, I am actually do not care which one will you find first, purpose or passion, as long as you believe it and take action to make it happen, the results will be the same.
Maya Angelou once said that every great achievement requires time. This is true. That is why it is important for you to have some sort of level in patience when trying to accomplish your life design. It takes patience. So much patience. It can take years of patience, or even a decade of grueling work before you start to reap big results from all the time and hard work you’ve put in, and it can be frustrating as hell. Patience means to be ready to face adversities and in many cases to undergo enormous suffering in order to achieve a desired aim. Persistence means not to give up, to remain in the ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ till the end for what you long for.
Patience is not something we have; it is something we consciously do. Patience is like any other hard-earned discipline: The more we practice it, the more patient we become. Ten steps over ten days are better than 1,000 steps in one day without any follow up for a month. Going small has its advantages and you can build it into something big.
Most people, however, lack these qualities. They want success in achieving their live design, but they want it the easy way — they are not ready to sacrifice much of themselves, whether that is time or effort or whatsoever is needed. Naturally, they give up quickly and accept ‘defeat.’
Being patient is accepting that great things take a long time to build. And hesitation is looking down the hole of what you’d have to do to get to where you want to be and stopping dead in your tracks. Patience is accepting that creating your best work is going to take a while, and living with that — not complaining about it and bemoaning your situation, but just putting your head down and doing the work regardless of the outcome it gives you. If you wanted to change your life, to make it better than yesterday, try to learn to be patience. Try to understand that every great achievement takes times. This is one of your key in accomplishing your life design.
What is persistence? Persistence allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, and therefore you keep producing results. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. If we combine our ambition (the 3A part) with persistence, then ambition itself is the path to your life design. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
Ambition means nothing if you are not willing to be consistent with your actions and be persistent in operating at a high level. The average person quits after they are not immediately rewarded for their short-term efforts. A successful person ignores instant gratification and understands that success is a long-term effort. You must build up your efforts over time until they align together to accomplish your desired goal. This is why there are so few successful people and so many mediocre people who can only dream of success. Successful people undertake strategic actions and persist at them, while mediocre people lack the stamina and persistence to see things through.
It does not matter how many times, you are turned down. If you are trying to get a qualification or pass an exam, don’t quit just because you failed; try again, and again, and again! If you are trying to get a job, don’t quit because you got a rejection. If you are trying to build your career, don’t quit because some guy at work shouted at you!
If you are trying to build a business, don’t quit simply because the business climate is bad, in your community. Or, because someone let you down. Or, because your government did not do something for you.
Maybe you lost your job, and you have been looking, and looking and looking. Don’t give up! You might have even gone bankrupt…. Just like Steve. Start again. Don’t quit! That’s what we called persistence’s!
Performance is completion of a task with application of knowledge, skills and abilities. Someone who has a good performance is always a result oriented person. We need performance to make sure that we can accelerate the process of manifestation and achievement in our life. Successful life designer often comes down to one thing – focus on your performances.
When it’s time to discuss your accomplishments in your self-assessment when designing your life, having actual data to show what you’ve done throughout the year is highly beneficial. Track down your performance by means of tracking down your accomplishment.
I give you an example. If your life design is to creates 10.000 job employment, how did you measure your performance? First of all is by gathering all the related data with your design. How much that you already made so far. When is your expected date to achieve those goals? What is your strategy? Sometimes performance will be against our previous principle, which is to let go all of your thought and prays and let God did His task. Well measuring your performance is also one way of tracking how far did God and the Universe is taking care of your goals or pray.
Performance evaluations help everyone know where they stand and how they’re performing as well as the goals of your own life design. It is also important sometimes to check by how far you have manage to accomplish the life design that you have created.
No one wants to be an underachiever. No one wants to be average. And I know, for the most part, we all try to rise to the top. So why are we not all there? What stops us from being top performers too?
If you’re going to be a champion in life, you have to be driven by performance. You have to want to succeed so badly that you are willing to push yourself like you never have before. Despite all your best efforts, there will be times that no matter what you do, you fail. So it’s important to strike the proper balance between being performance driven to succeed and the outcome.
Decoding #3: Begin with The End of Your Life Purpose – Death
This is the most important hidden message among all other. The secret to Steve success. It was all begin with the end of your life purpose. Your death. Your funeral. Steve always did this for the past 33 years, he would have looked in the mirror every morning and asked himself: “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, he know he need to change something.
Steve is always embracing his death. He is always remembering about death. We realize that we all gonna die someday right? It is an absolute truth. You cannot deny it. We all gonna die someday!
So that is actually your real purpose in life. I meant not really the death. But can you imagine your own funeral? You should try to imagine what kind of funeral that will be held for your own funeral. For example, where do you want it to be located? Is it in a royal funeral area? Or just in an ordinary cemetery? Who will be attending your funeral? What kind of speech that will be delivered by your beloved ones, families, friends, partners, etc?
Just imagine the below scenario in your mind. Imagine that one day in your beautiful home, at the age of …. (name the number of your expected age), you are still healthy, you are laying in your bed, but suddenly you get a sudden heart attack. Your spouse called 911 and rush you to the nearest hospital. They brought you to the Emergency Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for direct medical help. The medical team tries hard to help you back to alive, but suddenly you heard the long beep sound from your heartbeat analyzer machine…
The doctor came out from the ICU room and said sorry, they have tried everything they can, but they cannot save your life. Everybody is crying. Your spouse. Your children. Your grand children. Your family and closed ones. You can see them crying out loud. You try to spoke with them. But they cannot hear you. You can see your body turns cold and blue. No life. Nothing.
Then suddenly you are already putted in the coffin. All of your family members are already gathered around your coffin. What kind of speech that you wanted them to be delivered during your funeral? Who else would like to attend and give speech during your funeral? Is it the President of your country scheduled to give a speech in your funeral? Is it the Prime Minister of your neighboring Country are there honored your death? Can you imagine what kind of speeches that they all will delivered in your funeral? Can you imagine what would they remembered about you and your positive impact to this world? What you have achieved and created in the whole of your entire life? How you helped make or creates a better life on Earth? Or do you wanted a simple funeral attended only by your family and closed friends? It is all up to you. You decided the end of your life. Your death. Start from there. You will find your purpose in life by imagining the end of your life. Connect the dots backward. Link the end of your life purpose with the life that you would like to design.
When you always remembered that today was going to be your last day, you will give your best on that day, doing everything you need to take, to do, to take action, and other related stuff that you think you need to do before you will be taken home by God tomorrow. This is a beautiful concept. Steve teach us to embrace death, not to fear it.
So that was my decoding version of Steve Jobs speech. I hope it will help you to understand also of what is the truly hidden story and message behind his speech.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Dimas Satya Lesmana