How to Live a Life Before You Die
By Steve Jobs
This essay ” How to Live Before You Die” is a motivational speech which has been delivered by the CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar, Steve Jobs on 12th June 2005. He delivered this speech at the 114th commencement of Stanford University in the United States. He delivered an inspirational speech over his life-related views publicly. This speech encouraged not only the students of Stanford University but also many people around the world. Here in this speech, Steve Jobs related his three different stories based on his life. All these three stories had played very vital roles in shaping up his experiences and journey of a successful career.
The CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer and Pixar Steve Jobs’ three life- related different stories were:
- About Connecting the Dots:
- About Love and Loss:
- About Death:
- His First Story about Connecting the Dots:
This first story is about various facts that are linked with his life. Here in the first story, he has narrated about his birth, adoption scene and later struggles. According to him, his biological mother was an unwed college graduate student who decided to put him for adoption before his birth. She wanted her baby to be adopted by graduate parents. To adopt him, a lawyer and his wife became ready at first. But, after his birth, the lawyer’s family changed their mind to adopt him because they wanted to adopt a baby girl. Later on, he was adopted by another family. His biological mother refused to sign adoption papers because she found out that the parents were never graduated from high school and college. But, the parents persuaded his biological mother to send him college someday.
Steve joined an expensive college name Reed College at the age of 17. His parents’ all savings were being spent on his college tuition. After six months, he dropped out of Reed college and even those classes of his disinterest. He didn’t have an idea about the further steps of his life. He failed to make meaning of his life. He didn’t get the idea of what he wanted to do in his life. The importance of college itself was in a question mark. He started taking classes of his interest. During those days, he faced a lot of hardships. He joined calligraphy class to learn about typefaces. Calligraphy was quite popular during those days. He learnt serif and sans serif typefaces. For him, the course of calligraphy turned out to be a kind of boon. After 10 years, he used his knowledge of calligraphy and his skills when he was designing the first Macintosh computer. He designed the first Macintosh computer with beautiful typography. While pursuing his curiosity and intuition, he stumbled many times but his hardships turned out to be priceless later on. He realized everything related to dots and their connections in his life. When he looked backwards, he got the idea that how different dots kept on connecting themselves to support him to reach his real destination. His decisions of drooping college and starting course of his interest, his experiences, hardships, gut and trust in karma (destiny) etc moved along with his steps like different dots. Finally, all these dots got connected and made him successful.
His advice in this Story:
- You can connect dots looking backwards.
- You have to trust the connection of dots in your future.
- You have to trust in your gut, destiny, life, karma.
- His Second Story about Love and Loss:
Here in this story, he has narrated about his story related to his love for his work and loss of his company. According to him, he found whatever he loved early in his life. He and his friend Woz started Apple company in his parents’ garage at his age of 20. Their small company turned into 2 billion dollars company with over 4000 employees after 10 years. As the company progressed, they decided to hire a talented person to take over the company. The company did a great job in the first year. But later on, due to divergence in their visions for the future of their company, the Board of Directors fired him from his own company at the age of 30. It was a quite devastating experience for him. He even asked for an apology to David Packard and Bob Noyce for screwing up so badly. He thought as if his entire life was ruined. He felt rejected but he began to realize that he still was in love with work he did. He decided to start over again. After that, he entered one of the most creative periods of his life. During next five years, he formed a new company named NeXT, and then Pixar, which turned out to be the most successful animation studio in the world, creating the first computer-animated feature film ‘Toy Story’. He even fell in love with an amazing woman.
Later on, Apple bought NeXT and he returned to Apple again. With mixed technology vision, he was able to dominate the IT market.
His advice in this Story:
- Don’t lose faith.
- Love what you work.
- Keep looking for your best work which satisfies you…don’t settle.
- His Third Story about Death:
Here in this story, Steve has narrated his story about death. At the age of 49, he suffered from pancreatic cancer. His doctors told him that he would be able to live 3 to 6 months only. But later on, when he had biopsy, his doctors informed his wife about the treatment of his tumour through surgery. After surgery, he became able to get rid of his pancreatic tumour. During the time of his diagnosis, he experienced his death closely. The concept of death taught him a serious lesson in his life. Death is inevitable and nobody lives for forever. Nobody wants to die but everyone shares this intellectual concept. Death is really life’s greatest invention. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. But, he never lost his hope. After his recovery, he kept on working very honestly providing his best for his company being responsible.
His advice in this Story:
- Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
- Listen to your inner voice instead of others’ opinions.
- Follow your heart and intuition.
- Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Understanding the text
- What is the story about Steve Jobs’ birth?
Steve Jobs was given birth by an unwed college graduate student. She decided to put her baby for adoption during her pregnancy. She wanted her baby to be adopted by an educated family. To adopt Steve Jobs, a lawyer’s family became ready at first. But, after the birth of Steve Jobs, the lawyer’s family changed their mind to adopt him. They desired to adopt a baby girl. Later on, a mechanic named Paul Jobs and his wife Clara Jobs adopted Steve Jobs with a promise that someday they would send Steve to college for his study.
- What does he mean when he says, “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”?
Here in his line, he means to suggest all of us that our successes and failures of present time depend on our past’s different dots but not in our future’s dots. We realise about our present life through our past’s different dots of our life as our hardships we faced, decisions we made, struggles we did, mistakes we committed, desires we desired, selections we made, steps we moved etc. When we look backwards, we realize the fact of connection of all these dots in our life. No one can connect these dots looking upcoming future. The determiner of our present and future is our past as well as different dots of our life. We can’t predict the future but life makes sense when we look at history.
- What happened when Steve Jobs turned 30?
When Steve Jobs turned 30, he was fired from his own company by the board of directors.
- Jobs contends that you need to love to do what you do in order to be great at it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Yes, I agree with his opinions because our love for our work can lead us towards success. To be great in our work, it’s very much important for all of us to love our work which we do. If we are unable to love our work, we won’t get success in our work. In that situation, our work will be meaningless to us.
- Is death really life’s greatest invention?
Yes, death is really life’s greatest invention. Death is inevitable and nobody lives for forever. Nobody wants to die but everyone shares this intellectual concept. Death is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. No one can defeat this concept. Everyone has to face this bitter reality.
Reference to the context
- Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
“We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.”
- Who was the baby boy?
The baby boy was Steve Jobs.
- What does ‘do you want him?’ mean?
‘Do you want him?’ means a question related to Steve Jobs’ adoption to his parents Paul and Clara Jobs who were in the waiting list to adopt the baby.
- Who does ‘they’ refer to?
‘They’ refer to Mr. Paul Jobs and Mrs. Clara Jobs .
- Explain the following lines:
- “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
This line has been delivered by the CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer Steve Jobs in his speech at Stanford University. Here in this line, Steve Jobs is advising all the people about the vital role of gut, destiny, life, karma in their life. He advises all the people to keep faith and trust in these vital aspects of their life. According to Steve Jobs, these aspects move along with success. The trust in these aspects can lead anyone towards perfection.
- “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
This line has been delivered by the CEO and co-founder of Apple Computer Steve Jobs in his speech at Stanford University. Here in this line, he is advising people about the importance of time that keeps on running so fast. According to him, we have to utilize our time which is so limited. We shouldn’t waste our time living someone else’s life. Within this short period, we have to make the right use of our time to bright our future. Time waits for none. We should move ahead without wasting our time.
- What does he mean by “don’t settle”?
By “don’t settle”, he means to suggest people about not settling down the search for the best and satisfactory tasks which they prefer to do. He means to say that we must keep looking for our best works which satisfy us. We should try our best to find suitable tasks. We shouldn’t settle down in the matter of our desirable tasks until we find our right tasks that satisfy us.
- Which style of speech is used by the speaker to persuade the audiences?
To persuade the audiences, personal, informal style of speech is used by the speaker. His speech seems a narrative type where he tries his best to motivate his audiences through his real life-related stories.
- It is not easy to motivate others. How do you think Steve Jobs’ speech is so inspiring?
I think Steve Jobs’ speech is so inspiring. His act of delivering life-related stories in his speech to motive his audiences is outstanding. In his speech, he has shared his personal stories of his life that has inspired most of the people. His speech has various facts related to the life of common people. His speech provides a kind of encouragement to the people to move ahead on the way of progress no matter which family background they belong to.
- Why do you think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative storytelling technique in his speech? What influence does it have on the audiences?
I think Steve Jobs used the personal narrative storytelling technique in his speech to motivate his audiences. His speech has various facts related to hardships and struggles of life. It has a very positive influence on audiences. Through his speech, the audiences have got a chance to know about hardships and struggles behind a successful life in real sense.
Reference beyond the text
- One of Steve Jobs mottos was: ‘Think differently’. Can this make a person succeed in life? What challenges are there in thinking differently?
Yes, this can make a person succeed in life. To change life, we have to think and act differently. There must be the change in our thoughts. We have to try to do something different. Similar thoughts never can get proper way ahead to change life. There are various challenges in thinking differently. Many legends, inventors were humiliated and cut off from societies due to their nature of thinking differently. They were supposed to be insane. Thinking differently may cut off people from majorities, societies etc. But, for change and development, we have to think differently.
- What does the slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish” mean to you?
The slogan “Stay hungry; stay foolish” means “stay eager” and “be ready to try new things” to me. We should always be eager to know and achieve important things in our life. We should try to do a new thing in our life with different thoughts.
- What does it mean to be a visionary? What makes Steve Jobs different from a fortune-teller?
To be a visionary means having a positive vision or foresight about the future. Steve Jobs is quite different from a fortune teller. A fortune teller isn’t right all the time. His/ Her predictions may be incorrect. But, as a visionary man, Steve Jobs’ positive foresight about the future makes him different from a fortune teller. Due to his vision in the tech world, he was able to achieve height in the tech world. Behind his foresight, various things played vital roles which are as follows: