So poor Steve Jobs kicked the bucket this week. Now, I don’t know much about Steve and I have no particular affection for Apple products – I still use a clunky Toshiba PC and a Blackberry Pearl – so I was astounded by the outpouring of grief my Facebook feed has documented over the past couple of days.
I read some of the quotes and I watched some of the videos – one in particular that was re-posted again and again: Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005. It’s a damn good speech; the type you expect to hear if your parents have forked out thousands of dollars to pay for your tuition at one of the most reputable universities in the world. Addressing an intimidatingly-full amphitheatre of fresh-faced students, Jobs dispenses his three most important life lessons:
- Don’t live somebody else’s life, follow the path that’s right for you
- Love what you do, it’s the only way to be truly satisfied
- Remember that you’re going to die one day and live accordingly
All good points, I think we can unanimously agree. But I have to take issue with number two a little bit, and here’s why…
In the last year or so lots of my close friends have had a total career overhaul for exactly the reasons Steve Jobs states:
‘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. The only way to do great work is to love what you do – if you haven’t found it yet keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it’.
This is all well and good when spoken from the mouth of the man who was very smart, worked extremely hard and became a multi-billionaire whom millions of techy geeks grieved for when he finally passed away. But what about all those who don’t ‘make it’? Are they total failures because they’ve decided to work to live instead of live to work?
As I said, many of my friends are re-evaluating their job situation at the moment – leaving well paid respectable roles in search of something more fulfilling, be that teaching or writing for a living. I absolutely respect that desire – I can relate to it myself – but there’s a niggling voice in my head that keeps suggesting we might be a generation of malcontents.
I love my lifestyle and I’m incredibly thankful for having had a certain amount of success in what is an extremely tough and competitive industry, and yet I continue to winge. I’m doing well, but I haven’t written a Man Booker Prize-winning novel; I’m earning a liveable salary, but my boyfriend still makes about 15k more than me; I enjoy what I do but I’m hardly saving lives or helping addicts get clean or aiding refugees in war-torn countries, now am I? Girls these days (and it is girls) want MORE money for doing something MORE creative. We simply can’t accept that we might have to choose between one or the other. We might have to do exactly what Mr Jobs warns us against and settle *gasp*.
My parents have worked all their lives – one as a social worker the other in property – and have just got on with it quite frankly. They don’t eat out at nice restaurants several times a week. They don’t blow hundreds of pounds on clothes. They don’t jet off to Ibiza and drink £30-cocktails at Blue Marlin. But they’re fine. Everything has turned out ok and they find satisfaction in the many facets of their lives.
Striving for what you want career-wise is a great thing, but never berate yourself for not accomplishing absolutely everything you set out to do because nobody does. In his Stanford speech Steve Jobs tells the crowd about his recent recovery from pancreatic cancer and his desire to live and work for decades to come. Sadly we know that’s one ambition he didn’t fulfil which is why his third life lesson – we all die – is the most poignant.
Live the best you can and find reasons to be happy with your lot in life rather than dwelling on all things you haven’t yet accomplished. Don’t worry about having it all, because ‘it all’ finds a way of coming together, one way or another.
RIP Mac Daddy