Thank You, Steve Jobs

The world is deeply saddened by a great loss this week. The death of Steve Jobs came as a shock, despite the public knowledge of his deteriorating health. I guess we all hoped that by stepping down as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs would deservingly get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his successes with his family. His sudden death came as a cold reminder to us all:

Life is too short

Like everyone else, I clicked on all the links on Facebook and Twitter to read about the history, the failures, the successes, and the life stories of Steve. Much of it was actually quite uplifting. I personally found that the commencement speech he made at the Stanford graduation in 2005 was one of the most genuine, inspiring, and motivating speech given. I watched it several times, so that I could grasp the meaning behind every word of his eloquent speech. My favorite parts include the following excerpts:

“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.”

“Sometimes, life is going to hit you like a brick on the head. Don’t lose faith.”

I also loved the stories that he told, each with its own meaning buried within. Like the story of his accidental “stumble” into a calligraphy class, and how his learnings from that very class contributed to the wonderful variety of typography that we can all find on our computers today.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that your dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

I love hearing rags to riches stories, but more so, I love hearing stories of how unrelated dots get connected. Like a lot of other people, I love the “a-ha” moments of understanding destiny. They say hindsight is 20/20, and I find truth to that every single day.

“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.”

I can’t agree more with the above advice from Steve. It is, in fact, the core of what I have always believed in. Growing up in a strict Chinese family, my parents’ expectations of me have always been high in the academic arena. But from a very young age, it became apparent that I could never do well in things that I simply did not love or feel passionate about. My mom insisted that I learn the drums in music class. I hated it, and ended up skipping class a lot. Instead, I took an interest in piano, and learned how to read notes on my own and eventually played full pieces without any formal training. When we lived in Idaho, I lost the ability to speak my native language, Chinese. Even though my parents pushed me hard to speak it at home, I just couldn’t do it, because I didn’t like the language. After we moved back to San Francisco, the diversity of the city made me take a sudden interest in the language, and the beauty of the written characters. As a result, despite the lack of formal classes or instructions, I mastered the ability to read, write, and speak fluently in Chinese on my own in a few short years. Such memories have always vividly reminded me of one important message to myself: Love + Passion are essential components to success, and a happy life. I hope to pass this mantra onto Bridgette as she grows up, to encourage her to find her love and passion in life.

Entrepreneurship is a difficult road, but what keeps entrepreneurs going, despite the never ending challenges, exhaustion, and roadblocks is the very essence of Steve Job’s message to us all–the love and passion required to do great jobs. I am very lucky to have found a career that I love, and hope that everyone else will follow their hearts to do the same…

Thank you Steve Jobs, for showing us how to accept rejection, but still be in love. To trust ourselves, and to have faith. To believe, even when nobody else does.

You will forever remain a legacy, and an inspiration for generations to come.

Love this image of Steve and his wife Laurene. The love between them is unspoken, yet heartfelt.

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