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For the past 33 years

29 February 2016

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.

Steve Jobs


3 Comments to “For the past 33 years”

  1. Nice advice from the Digital Messiah. I wonder if he felt that way, or indulged those fantasies before he was the biggest thing since sliced bread. Most of us have to pay dues, and many of us our whole lives. I’d love a Jobs quote from when he hadn’t made a dime yet and had only hard work and few prospects to look forward to.. Our society values success in business at the pinnacle of reasons to admire someone. Unfortunately, much of success in business is heavily dependent upon a lucky break, which most of us may never see, rather than singular talent or force of will. I tend to prefer quotes and advice from somebody who has to worry at the end of each month, like I do.

    • Jobs hardly came from a rich family and if you study his early life it seems pretty clear the quote was reflected in his decisions from his teenage years on.

      For example, his adopted parents had promised his birth mother that they would send him to college, but upon finding it was more than they could afford, and questioning its value, Jobs dropped out after one semester, only monitoring a few classes he felt were valuable and then moving on.

      He headed off to India on his own, with virtually no money looking for enlightenment. He didn’t find it, but felt the experience was valuable the rest of his life. And, of course, built Apple out his garage into the most successful company in the world.

      As for “getting a lucky break” Jobs success was based primarily on incredible hard work, starting in his early twenties and never stopping (even for cancer) until he was on his death bed. It’s hard to think of another successful businessman who owes less to prior wealth (his family was lower middle class), connections (his family had few and he gained none as a college dropout) or lucky breaks. About the only lucky break he got was being born in the right area and right time for his natural talents to excel.

      His early partnership with Woz might be considered “lucky,” Woz was a genius, but if you study the history you’ll see it took a huge amount of effort for Jobs to even be able to take advantage of that lucky situation. Woz didn’t want to start a business, refused to quit his job, and wanted to give his ideas away for free. Jobs not only had the talent to see the value in Woz’s invention (and many other inventions and people) but was willing to put the hard work into raising money and making it all happen.

      During his career at Apple, Jobs rarely took the easy path. After Apple went public, Jobs could have simply coasted on his wealth and wandered to world. Instead, he engaged in a huge internal battle to revolutionize computers with the Macintosh. Likewise, when he was forced out of the company due to politics, he continued to work hard until he ultimately proved he was right and retook control of the company.

      Likewise, with Pixar, he could have simply coasted on the success of their first few films but instead battled Disney to maintain the quality and control of their artistic work. It was absolutely a David vs. Golliath battle, one that Pixar amazingly won, eventually taking over Disney’s animation in a reverse buyout.

      Apple’s move into mobile with the iPhone was an amazing risk that paid off again thanks more to hard work than luck. Same with the iPod, and iPad.

      It’s hard to look back and see where Jobs simply lucked out, or to find a time when he wasn’t living his life in pursuit of higher goals and motivations as he states in his quote.

  2. A friend of mine once said, the thing about work is it’s not fun, and that’s why they pay you to do it.

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