I often look for inspiring quotes, stories, videos, etc. and happened to stumble upon this video of Steve Jobs giving a commencement speech at Stanford University. He tells a couple of stories about following his intuition even though his choices seemed to have no truly applicable purpose in that moment, and then realizing, years later, how those choices fit in to his future. Sometimes, we seem to be drawn off course or feel like we’re drifting aimlessly. Years later, it all comes together–what the meaning of that choice was, or how it fits in to our life as a whole, how that experience was an essential foundation for what was to come ahead. It is only later that we are able to ‘connect the dots’ as Steve Jobs says.
Another part of his speech struck a very personal chord with me. Some of you know I’ve cheated physical death twice in the not too distant past. As a result, I appreciate every day and do my best to live a life of purpose and intent. I try to put things in perspective of importance by asking myself if the thing that’s upsetting me right now would even be important if I knew I were going to die today. What choices would I make differently in how I would spend my time, focus my attention and energy, etc. Steve Jobs sums it up by asking, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
I asked myself a variation of this question last night, and again this morning, and I realized that I must make a change and take a leap of faith that I’ve been avoiding for a while. I thought about what had prevented me from making this choice for so long, when I knew it was ultimately the right thing to do. The answer was, quite simply–fear– and listening to the opinions of everyone else instead of listening to myself. Now, my friends definitely care about me and my well-being and advised me to the best of their ability, keeping in mind what would be the safest thing for me to do. Because they care, they don’t want to see me struggle. But, in making the safe choice, I realize I’ve been cheating myself and I haven’t been living full-out on purpose and with complete passion. Jobs says, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” That goes for the opinions of the negative nay-sayers as well as those who care about you. Ultimately, you know best what’s right for you. You just need to take the time to be still and allow the path to reveal itself to you. So, friends, I’m taking my own advice here, as inspired by this amazing speech. There will be some big changes up ahead for me in the very near future–like later today! The time to jump is right now.
Here’s a link to the video of the speech on YouTube. It’s about 15 minutes long, but so worth watching all the way through. I hope you’ll be inspired as well to ask yourself that question each morning. “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” If the answer is yes, I’d like to hear about it. If the answer is no, I wonder what you would want to do instead. Let me know your thoughts.