I know this is all over the Internet and every news channel by now, but I heard that Steve Jobs died today on my way home from work, and it saddened me.  That it saddened me somehow surprised me, too.  It’s not like I knew him, and despite his reputation as a genius in product design, his perfectionism was known to make him brutal to work with.  I probably couldn’t have worked for him, but I certainly did respect him.  As someone who has been into electronic gadgets for years, is a student of business and leadership, living in the Bay Area, where Jobs was more of a legend than anywhere else, and working in technology for so long, perhaps he was a bigger figure in my unconscious than I realized.  I don’t know.  I’m puzzling over it.  As I read the news tonight, I followed a link to the Commencement address that Jobs gave to the 2005 graduating class of Stanford.  In it, he discusses death, having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the year before.  I have some issues around death – it’s a rather long story, so I won’t get into it right now, but suffice it to say the topic is generally on my mind more than I’d like it to be.  I’ve included some excerpts from that Stanford speech below.  At the moment – for me, at least – these words from Steve Jobs seem as big a tribute to humanity as any.

“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.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because 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.

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.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

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