5 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs

Visionaries are important people. They keep our world progressing forward. They ignite paradigm shifts, changing the way we live and interact with society. They inspire us to do more, to be better, and to work smarter.

Today, I wanted to honor the memory of one of the most creative and productive thinkers of our generation. Steve Jobs taught Americans how to live before we die… granting us the convenient luxury of having the world at our fingertips every step of the way.

He instilled in us a unique blend of western values like innovation, entrepreneurship,  good ol’ fashioned hard work, competition, and perfectionism while channeling eastern ideas of spirituality founded in Buddhism, simplicity, and fruitarianism.

Convention was not his jam.

He’s definitely a conversation-worthy character. Here are five nuggets of wisdom he left behind as contribution to that dialogue.

Know Yourself, Be Yourself

Dr. Seuss was another, albeit quite different, kind of visionary. He definitely knew a few things. Like, you’re the only you. No one alive is youer than you. That’s certainly truer than true.

So use all that youness to get acquainted with your strengths and weaknesses. Feed off that shit. Seriously. It’s all you’ve got.

You can’t relish in achievement if you’re not true to the fiber of your being.  If you’re a fish, stop climbing trees. If you’re a bird, get out of the water. Decide what you’ve got to be and go be it.

Jobs discovered exactly who he was early in life. He made conscious choices based on that knowledge. He knew intelligence isn’t a commodity to be squandered.

Then a more disconcerting discovery began to dawn on him: He was smarter than his parents. He had always admired his father’s competence and savvy .” He was not an educated man, but I had always thought he was pretty damn smart. He didn’t read much, but he could do a lot. Almost everything mechanical, he could figure it out… When I realized I was smarter than my parents, I felt tremendous shame for having felt that. I will never forget that moment. This discovery, he later told friends, along with the fact that he was adopted, made him feel apart — detached and separate– from his family and the world. 

-Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

Just Do the Damn Thing

When Jobs was only 12 years old, he looked up Bill Hewlett (founder of Hewlett-Packard) in the phone book so he could ask him for the parts he needed to build his own frequency counter.

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a 12-year-old boy willing to part with his Xbox long enough to look up what a frequency counter even looks like…

That intrepid behavior defined Jobs until his dying day. When he ran into hurdles, he jumped them.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

Maybe you’ve never been a runner. Maybe hurdles terrify you. Tough shit. This rat race is chock-full of hurdles 10-stories-high. No one’s going to push them out of the way for you. So lace the f**k up and start stretching. It’s time to scale those suckers.

Be bold. Maintain courage to go forth with whatever it is you intend to do. Hurdles are inevitable. There are always mountains beyond mountains. The trick is to keep moving. Use every step into new terrain as a learning opportunity.

“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs

Taking the road less traveled can benefit you in ways you can’t possibly realize in the moment.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.
           -Steve Jobs

Life’s short. Just f**king do it.

Own Your Mistakes

Perfection isn’t achieved overnight. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re expected to make mistakes along the way. How you react to those mistakes matters infinitely more than the mistakes.


Make mistakes, recognize them, address them, learn from them, and move on. It’s pretty simple stuff… Again, we’re back to the “life’s short” thing. Ain’t nobody got time for your pity parties.

I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, such as getting my girlfriend pregnant when I was twenty-three and the way I handled that… but I don’t have any skeletons in my closet that can’t be allowed out.” -Steve Jobs

Full disclosure, I never met the guy. From what I’ve read in interviews, it sounds like he was a bit of a douche when it came to girlfriends and wives. There’s plenty of negative feedback swirling around the inter webs about how Jobs functioned in interpersonal relationships, but that’s just part of his story.

He might have been a bit of an asshole sometimes, but he was brilliant and got shit done. He’s both human and genius. As ordinary and extraordinary as they come.

Everybody’s lived through some shitty chapters. Everybody’s got demons. They will only enrich the story of your life if you channel the negative energy properly…

Just try to make a point of creating amazing subsequent chapters in the aftermath of being an ass-jerk. It’s easier to be successful when people don’t hate ya (Trump’s a bit of a wild card).

Anything but Apathy: Steve’s Passion for Perfection

Jobs sought spiritual enlightenment, body purification, and excellence in all facets of his existence. But his work was certainly where he channeled the bulk of his efforts.

He saw every product he created as an extension of his being. He took pride in his work, obsessively so. It was beneath his self-worth to create anything lackluster.

He pursued perfection with mad passion. Patterns unveiled possibilities. Potential was everywhere. He unlocked potential over and over again, constantly challenging the status quo. There was always room for improvement.

His obsession with perfection spilled into his spirituality. There was this notion that maybe there really is some sort of perfect utopia — be it nirvana, God, peace, happiness, or whatever other word used to describe the perfect place of salvation religious souls spend their lives searching for.

I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t. It’s the great mystery.” — Steve Jobs

But it was the one puzzle he couldn’t quite solve before he passed. steve's final quoteCreate Your Own Reality

Live a life you love. If you’re not happy with where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with, change it.

Nothing is set in stone. If you’re discontent, disgruntled, depressed, whatever, do some soul-searching. Then, again, lace the f**k up and get to it.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

Don’t let someone else’s dogma dictate your days. On average we each get 27,375 days, total. Many of us will get far less.

Fill up your time with meaningful activities. Leave your mark. You’re in control of your legacy, no one else.

This isn’t a trial run, it’s the real deal. So dare to mold your own destiny. What are you waiting for?



4 thoughts on “5 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs

  1. I realize you were looking at the facets of the man that were positive but Steve Jobs had an incredibly dark side. Yes, he achieved amazing things and I see him being lionized after his passing but if you follow tech business at all…well…Gawker summed it up better than I could. We, none of us, are pure good or pure bad…he did a lot of things that did not go down well with me. From overseas sweatshops to silencing his workers to denying paternity of his daughter…(he eventually recognized her) he was not a good man. We are all flawed. Sometimes I feel his flaws were as epic as his achievements.

    Gawker’s post summed up my feelings about it: http://gawker.com/5847344/what-everyone-is-too-polite-to-say-about-steve-jobs

    As in all things Gawker, read with an open mind, I’m straight but many of my friends and family are not. But many of my family and some of my friends would not approve of Gawker so beware the comments. Whatever their life styles they all tend to be smart, witty, astute people. (R.I.P. Gawker site.)

    Good luck with your blog! 🙂


    1. I definitely agree with you which is why I mentioned his personal life, too. My biggest takeaway was in this line: “He might have been a bit of an asshole sometimes, but he was brilliant and got shit done. He’s both human and genius. As ordinary and extraordinary as they come.” But I surely could have written about his epic flaws as well. My blog kind of focuses on the good sides of dark people (e.g. the Peaky Blinders post). I’m most interested in the duality of human experience… I like to look at the grey areas more than the black and white parts.

      I’ll check out that Gawker post… and thanks for the well wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many of the Gawker people were pointing out the same dichotomy we both see.
        From looking at some of your other posts you may enjoy the comments on this one post from the sadly now closed site. The OP mentions all the things I dislike at Steve Jobs but commenters from the industry step up and make valid points in his defense.


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