What should we do with our short life?
The last message of Steve Job in a speech at Stanford University in 2005 is “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” It means students should keep wanting and amass courage to do what they want. Knowing that it is a good advice, I want to translate it into a more concrete message.
I believe that there are three missions each of us can choose to spend our lifetime. First, spending life to put ourselves against a worthwhile challenge. Second, spending life to solve a significant problem. Third, trying to survive and enjoy life by making a lot of money. Surely, you may argue that these three ways of life can intertwine with one another. I agree that you have a good say. But let’s assume that each of us has something distinctive; one mission or way of life may be more prominent than the others and this mission is truly the engine that leads our daily activities.
Now, let we talk about the first mission. A worthwhile challenge must be meaningful to ourselves, whether it makes sense to others. For example, one person tries hard for many years to set a new world record in swimming or in marathon. I think this goal neither offer any usefulness nor make much sense to others than the person himself/herself. But as long as the person is happy with his goal, it is always worth the effort – to test one’s ability.
The second way of life is to use our life to solve a hard problem. This kind of endeavor is common in science where many scientists have been trying for decades to answer fundamental questions such as the origin of life and the origin of universe. This type of knowledge may be useful in the distant future but in the short-term it does not aim to bring about a practical application rather than to satisfy human’s curiosity. Many scientists enjoy very much their work and they believe it is a valuable goal deserving a lifetime devotion.
We come to the third way of life -- we just want to survive and experience life thank to having a huge amount of money. As you see, most of us make money through serving others. In other words, we must solve people’s real problems through making products or offering services. In business language, one must chase the right opportunity that means a potential market matches well with one’s competences.
Let’s me know what you think in the comment.
(This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.)