A Swift Kick in the Ass

An Apple employee holds an iPad with its screen showing a message in memory of Apple founder Steve Jobs, in San Francisco

If you’re in need of a fire to be lit under those cute cheeks you’re sitting on, read this immediately.

Do what it says at once.

If you hate it, that’s fine.  Today you spent a few minutes trying something new and most people can’t say that.  Experiments sent us to the moon and blew up the Challenger.  We never know how they’ll turn out until we try.  I hope this 4 min foray into the unknown leads to a controlled explosion of good thoughts, not a blown up shuttle.

Death.

Today I stumbled on a speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford.  It’s etched into my memory as one of my favorites of all time, but why it struck such a memorable chord escaped me until now.

http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html

Click.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. ~ Steve Jobs

Who actually asks that question?  Death is scary, yet it connects all of us.  Black or Asian, short, middle-class, or type-A, someday we will all die.  Am I happy with how today went?  I would say ‘Yes‘ today, but yesterday sure as hell wouldn’t make the ‘Yes‘ list.  The thought creeped into my head,

Am I ok with that?

For those of you who haven’t stalked Mr. Jobs on Wikipedia, Steve is an entrepreneurial saint.  His story has etched itself into the mythology of entrepreneurship – and for good reason.  At 20, he started Apple in the basement of his parents’ house.  Ten years of sweat-equity later, Steve’s baby had evolved into a $2 Billion behemoth.   The Board of Directors publicly fires Steve, who spends the next 5 years with “the pressure of success off his shoulders” as he says.  Pulled to explore entrepreneurship in the most creative of contexts, Steve starts Pixar.  Pixar birthed Toy Story – and very importantly, Buzz Lightyear – which led Steve back to Apple.  The rest of the story on your iPhone, iPad, or beautifully designed Macbook.

Steve is an anomaly, but he also grew up in an adopted household.  He’s just a man, like each and every one of us.  His mom had never been to college and his dad didn’t finish high school.  Gold didn’t magically appear when he hit the loo.

Steve ate, slept, and pooped just like we do.

But Steve had an unconquerable spirit, demanding that he follow what he loved.  At 12:30 of this talk, Steve launches into an epic rant that still sends chills down my spine.  I could feel the familiar vibrations of a chord Steve had played to my soul 2 years ago when I first saw this speech.

“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 other’s 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.”

Damn straight Steve!

1. Now get up. 

2. Go find a mirror.

3. Look yourself straight in the eyes and ask,

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

Yes?  Be grateful.  Many people can’t say that.

No?  We’ve now been armed with something very powerful.  The knowledge that change is necessary.   Magically fixing everything today and skipping around singing “la de da da” before the sun sets is as probable as your efforts to win the lottery.  But we can do something – and only if we want it bad enough.

Take one step in a positive direction.

And that’s all we can really do with certainty.  Move forward.  Change one thing.  Get closer, inch by inch (or as Seth Godin says, “Drip by drip”).  Follow the wisdom of Steve Jobs and…

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.

Written with love by Kevin.

PS. If you’re taking positive steps, inject a little awesome into your inbox and join our little club.  No strings attached, just awesome stories once a week.  Sign up on the left!

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