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October 6, 2011

Rich, powerful, brilliant, but still gone at 56

Steve Jobs was 56 years old when he died yesterday. 

While so much has been said about him, almost all laudatory and all well deserved, there are still a few observations that haven’t been made. 

One is the importance of overcoming obstacles and setbacks.  It’s not often mentioned, but he was adopted.  It wasn’t a simply adoption either;  it was complicated and involved being rejected by the first couple that was supposed to adopt him.   Didn’t slow him down one bit.  

Although often mentioned, it’s not often discussed that he was fired by Apple.  Everyone talks about him being hired back years later and what he did after that, but it should always be remembered that he didn’t let being fired get in the way of his goals, dreams & belief in himself.  It was a setback to be overcome, not defeated by it or even slowed down very much.  Indeed, he credits the firing with being the foundation for his future success. 

The other observation is the importance of remembering how short our time on earth is, no matter how famous, rich, smart or powerful.  When your time is up, the only thing that remains is what you’ve done while here and what others might say about you when you’re gone.  Contrary to what so many seem to believe, it’s not what you’ve accumulated while here.  As the old saw goes, “You’ve never seen a U-haul attached to a hearse.” 

When your time is up, having integrity, having been honest with yourself and others as well as being a good person, having done something important, meaningful, worthwhile, satisfying, interesting, challenging, etc., will be so much more important that the size of your wallet or bank accounts, you house, your office, your staff, the style of your cars, the scores you’ve settled, the people you’ve belittled, the parties you’ve attended, or the superficial views of so many.  This is an especially important reminder in the New York to Washington, D.C. corridor, where the sad parting observation of Vince Foster is all too often applicable:  “Here ruining people is considered sport.”

Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford entitled “Your Time Is Limited” has been much remarked upon, but should be frequently watched or read by everyone. 

Watch the video here

The text of the speech is here



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