Famous 2005 Jobs advice not the best for everyonePublished 10:57am Friday, October 21, 2011
The astounding and inspiring advice Steve Jobs gave the 2005 Stanford graduating class offers something for everyone, but everyone should exercise great caution as to how literally one takes it. Steve Job’s advice can work for the very few with his ability and reasonably well for many people, but it is exactly the wrong advice for others.
“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.”
Some individuals are outstanding and can use his advice to large measure, and they do well to do so. I wish them well. For most people his advice has limited value because our capabilities are limited, as his were not. For many, any attempt to do anything he did will be tragic failure.
He was fully correct in his first assertion about limited time, because no one has the ability to count one’s remaining days, and it is foolish to waste even one. He was correct that we should not attempt to live another person’s life but live our own. However, he cannot have meant not to emulate successful lives that have set the example, like, well, Steve Jobs. Attempting to succeed as he did is not living Steve Jobs’ life. Adopting the moral values and living by the standards of your parents is not living their lives. You can make these values and standards your own and live them as your own.
If by “dogma,” Jobs meant (as he probably did) unproved, unreasonable assumptions, he was correct. However, the considered wisdom of the ages is not dogma. Some young people throw out anything and everything taught to them by parents, teachers, and other wise people. There is wisdom in Jobs’ speech; don’t consider it dogma. We should live by the results of other people’s thinking, but we should not be confined to it. We must, indeed, think for ourselves. Yet, living by the solid thinking of others is more successful than trying to live without thinking.
I have listened to the inner voice of a lot of people as they told me what it says, and to it they need to say: Shut up! We do need to give serious and critical consideration of others’ opinions and measure ours against them. Almost everyone seriously needs the advice and counsel of those wiser than we.
How much we can trust our heart and intuition depends upon what is in our heart and how proven is our intuition. Not everyone’s heart and intuition knows what one truly wants to become. Some people have listened to nothing else but their heart and intuition and go to their grave with no idea of what they want to become. Some do not even know what they have become.
I do not think many of us actually want to be much like Steve Jobs. We would like his $6.5 billion, but I worry about a person who would be willing to become like him in order to acquire it. He was a tyrant who had contempt for anyone not like him. He restricted his attention to the six people he most trusted and ignored everyone else. If an associate made one serious mistake, he was dead. Not only did he wear the same clothing every day so he had no need to consume time thinking about it, he had no time for his children and asked Walter Isaacson to write his biography so they could know him. Steve Jobs was consumed by his work, and nothing was left for people as persons.
I submit everyone can benefit from serious consideration of Steve Jobs’ advice. I have a lot to learn from it, and I keep mulling it over. When he tells me not to let the noise of others’ opinions drown out my inner voice, I respond by not allowing Steve Jobs’ opinions to drown out my inner voice.
We can all take advice from Jobs, but we must be extremely careful about how literally we take it. He dropped out of Reed College after six months as being useless, and I cannot argue. This worked for him, but not for those, for instance, who wish to become licensed as physicians or lawyers. For many people his is very bad advice indeed.
Steve Jobs’ advice is excellent for some and of value for everyone. It can be followed successfully only as individually applicable.