Lots of my friends are putting up Steve Jobs posts this week. He was a great man who did great things. It's clear from all their posts that he inspired many. I thought I would do a quick post on how he inspired me.
Don't connect the dots...
I've done a lot of really random things in my life. Things that don't always seem to add up to anything. Things that don't seem to be related or make sense when considered as a whole. Here are just a few examples:
- When I was in elementary school, I learned how to do C++ computer programming. I didn't want to make it a career. I just liked learning how computers worked.
- When I was in junior high I took up running. I didn't have any reason to run. I just liked being outside with my thoughts.
- When I was in high school, I took a lot of creative writing classes. I especially liked writing satire and comedy. I didn't want to write a book or anything. I just liked making people laugh.
- When I was in college, I took up bodybuilding. I didn't think I would ever be strong, but I liked learning about the human body and exercise science.
For a long time, I thought that I was living my life the wrong way. Like I was supposed to have some kind of grand plan. For example, when people ask me questions like, "why did you go to law school?" they always expect some kind of great answer about how law has been a lifetime passion of mine or something. They're always disappointed when I tell them something about how I just "felt like it".
It would make me feel bad about myself. Like I wasn't supposed to be a lawyer unless it was what I had intended to do all along. Unless I came from a long line of lawyers. In fact, I felt hopeless because no matter how hard I tried I couldn't figure out what direction my life was supposed to go in. The old "what do you want to be when you grow up" problem.
Another random decision was going barefoot running for the first time. I had no reason to do it. I was comfortable in my shoes. It just seemed interesting. So did starting a blog on the same topic.
All those random things I mentioned above seem to have come together for me since I started a blog. Turns out I'm a pretty good writer. People think I'm funny. I can do an okay job programming a website. I know a decent amount about sports medicine. I can network the shit out of anything (a trait I learned in law school). I've found my talent. I've found where I excel. I'm pretty fricken good at this blogging stuff.
I found what I want to do. I want to make my passion for running my job. Some day soon I will...
Who knew all this would happen? Steve Jobs did. Here's a quote from his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address:
"Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, 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. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."
I felt my life was validated when I read that quote. I've always pursued whatever I was passionate about at the moment with my whole self, not really thinking about where it would lead. All of those passions have made me the person I am today.
I don't need to know what the future holds. I just need to love who I am and what I'm doing today. And I do. If you do that, your path will be revealed to you.
Another thing I do a lot....change jobs. Since I've graduated from law school, I've had four jobs in five years. I didn't like any of them. I still really don't. And when a better job comes along, I'm going to take it.
Again, people call me names like "short timer". Like I'm supposed to be content to be miserable. Loyalty over happiness.
I've only been working in the law for five years. And I'm already looking for a career in the outdoor and fitness industry. A change of career after only five years? But what about all your student loans? Like I'm supposed to be a lawyer for the next 20 years because I owe a bank some money.
Bullshit. I'm going to find my passion and make it my work...no matter how many frogs I have to kiss.
"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."
Don't settle people.
Follow your heart...
And when I find my opportunity to make my passion my job, I'm going to leap in head first. I'm not scared.
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. 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."
The worst thing that could happen isn't within my control. All I need is my family, my friends, and my passion. The rest will take care of itself, and the hardships along the way won't be as bad as I think.
Thank you Steve Jobs.