Eigentlich hatte ich einen anderen Tagebucheintrag begonnen. Doch jetzt, wo die ganze Welt über Steve Jobs redet, möchte ich auch ein, zwei kurze Sätze anfügen. In einer sehr persönlichen Rede aus dem Jahr 2005 sagte Steve Jobs ein paar Dinge über Glück und Zufriedenheit, über die Liebe und über den Sinn des Lebens. Zum Beispiel, dass manchmal ein Schritt zurück unabdingbar sei, um später zwei Schritte nach vorn zu machen. Dass der Kampf eines jeden um Glück und Zufriedenheit und für die Liebe nie enden dürfe und Resignation immer der falscheste Weg sei. Dass das Leben zu kurz dafür sei, nicht auf sein Herz zu hören.
Ich habe auf mein Herz gehört. Ich kündigte meine Arbeitsstelle (ohne etwas Neues zu haben) und ging für zehn Wochen in Richtung unbekannt.
Vielleicht hatte Steve Jobs recht. Gestern hatte ich den unterschriebenen Vertrag meines neuen Arbeitgebers im Maileingang – hätte ich mir vor der Abreise etwas aussuchen dürfen, wäre es exakt dieser Job gewesen. Ich starte dort am 1.12. und bleibe in München. Ein Schritt zurück, zwei Schritte nach vorn.
Glück, Zufriedenheit? Meine tansanischen Arbeitskollegen nahmen mich auch heute Früh zur Begrüßung in den Arm, so wie jeden Tag. Der Gipfel des Kilimanjaro glänzte in der Morgensonne, ich sah ihn von meinem Bürofenster aus. Heute Abend findet das nächste von mir organisierte Fußballturnier mit Waisenkindern statt, jetzt schon mit drei Mannschaften. Das 17-jährige Massai-Mädchen J., das zwangsverheiratet und -beschnitten werden sollte und (um sie gefügig zu machen) mit Hilfe der Eltern vergewaltigt worden war, ist dank NAFGEM in Sicherheit und geht seit heute wieder zur Schule.
Und am 1. November kommt meine Frau Anna nach Tansania. Ich bin felsenfest davon überzeugt, dass die zweimonatige Trennung unsere Liebe noch stärker gemacht hat. Uns bleiben hoffentlich noch ein paar Jahrzehnte, das zu schätzen und zu genießen.
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 worlds 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.
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 1960’s, 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.