speech at Stanford, 2005


In the commencement speech, Steve Jobs relates three stories of his life. The first one is about connecting the dots, the second, love and lost, and the third, death. His speech is inspiring in that it comes from his personal experiences instead of quoting others’ views.

For the first part about connecting the dots, he confirms the value of pursuing one’s real interests, which, though impractical then and there, will turn out valuable in the future. He gives his dropping in on the calligraphy course as an example, illustrating how important it is to follow one’s heart instead of others’ opinion. Here are his insights on trusting the inner voice:

much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on” 當初大部分因我的好奇與直覺所冒險投入的事到頭來都成了無比珍貴的經 

“you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” 你無法預先把生命當中的點點滴滴串連起來;只有在未來回顧時,你才能將那些點點滴滴串連在一起 

“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever because believing these 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 and that would make all the difference. “你得信任某個東西,直覺、命運、生命、業力,或者任何其它的東西。因為相信這些經歷,將來在你的人生道路上必將連結,才會讓你有信心去追隨你內心的渴求,即使這會引領你離開坦途,但卻會讓你的人生變得完全不同。 

For the second part about love and loss, he emphasizes the importance of keeping a positive attitude toward defeat. When he was fired by Apple, the very company he started, he didn’t choose to run away and hide; instead, he chose to face it and start over. It was this defeat that released him from the heaviness of success into the lightness of creativity. Without the defeat, he couldn’t come up with the innovative technology which later brought him back to Apple, and which led to the creation of a successful animation studio, Pixar. It was also this defeat that made him fall in love with his wife and together they created a happy family. So, what seems a defeat is a blessing after all! Here are his remarkable views on defeat:

it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”現在看來,被蘋果電腦開除,是我所經歷過最好的事情。成功的沉重被從頭來過的輕鬆所取代,每件事情都不那麼確定,讓我自由進入這輩子最有創意的年代。

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. 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. Don't settle.


For the third part about death, he relates his personal experience of suffering from cancer and getting rebirth later. Death becomes the best tool for him to make vital decisions in life. It helps him choose what’s truly important and signifcant for him. It is a most reliable weapon to ward off the noise from the outside world. In a certain sense, his insight about Death echoes Buddha’s teaching in Heart Sutra(心經): 「心無罣礙‧無罣礙故‧無有恐怖‧遠離顛倒夢想」

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.提醒自己快死了,是我在面臨人生重大決定時,所用過的最重要的方法。因為幾乎每件事,所有外界的期望、驕傲、面對困窘或失敗的恐懼-這些在面對死亡時都消失了,只有最真實重要的東西才會留下。

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.提醒自己快死了,是我所知避免掉入畏懼失去的陷阱裡最好的方法。你既然已經一無所有,那何不順心而為。

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. 死亡很可能是生命中最棒的發明。它是改變生命的媒介,清除一切老舊腐朽,讓位給新事物。

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.你們的時間有限,所以不要浪費時間過別人的生活。不要被教條所侷限--盲從教條就是活在別人思考的結果裡。不要讓別人的意見淹沒了你內在的心聲。最重要的,擁有追隨自己內心與直覺的勇氣,你的內心與直覺早已知道你真正想要成為什麼樣的人。任何其他事物都是次要的。

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.求知若飢,虛心若愚。

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