An Ode to Creating a Better Life

The year was 1994.

Steve Jobs had been kicked out of Apple Computer almost a decade earlier. He was nearing 40 years old and had gathered quite a bit of life experience to go along with his brilliance.

The previous year, 1993 was the low point of his life. His mother passed away, he had to fire 300 employees at NeXT Computer, and there were also hard times in getting Pixar’s first feature, “Toy Story,” to the screen.

During that time, Jobs was interviewed by the Santa Clara Historical Society on life, and advice that he’d give to entrepreneurs.

It’s interesting that this was at a time after his worst failures, and a year before his turnaround — when Toy Story was finally released, Disney partnered with Pixar, and NeXT was purchased by Apple, paving the way for his return to the company he had co-founded.

This is part of the interview:

Maybe the wisest words Steve Jobs has ever said.

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world.

Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

But…that’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is:

Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you.

And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know — if you push in, something will pop out the other side — that you can change it, you can mold it.

That’s maybe the most important thing.

It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

What does it mean?

This is Jobs’ call to break out of the trance of everyday life — and to actually CREATE something.

It’s a bit of attack on how most people live.

It asks that you embrace life and improve it, and to (as he had said previously in his life) PUT A DENT IN THE UNIVERSE.

It’s avoiding group think, and striking out to do something on your own, to bathe in creativity and make something beautiful.

Jobs loved making beautiful things.

In his Stanford Commencement speech a decade later, he offered more insight to this time in his life:

“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.

So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

The Lessons

  1. Life is malleable. It’s what you make it — and you have so much more control over it than you realize. Think about ways that you can choose yourself and make your life better. Then start doing it.
  2. Create something beautiful during life. Don’t spend your days whiling away doing something mediocre. Make it the absolute best you can. 
    If you have a business, become a craftsman (a craftsperson). Obsess over your product or service and — no matter what it is — make it a work of art.
  3. If you’re NOT doing something where you get to create, or something that you love, you need to change that. Start your side-hustle, and do it the right way.

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