Great minds think differently. And it is one of the reasons for their greatness.
When I try to think of a successful person whose thinking and vision was so innovative it shaped the way we interact with the world – Steve Jobs immediately comes to mind. His powerful creative drive, endless search for perfection, and unconventional thinking made him a legend of this generation.
And while Steve Jobs is no longer with us, his ideas, his vision and his personal success story continues to affect and inspire millions of people in every part of the world.
Here are 9 Guidelines of Life that Steve Jobs himself preached and followed, be it when creating his latest iPhone, building multi-million dollar companies or when facing personal and professional setbacks.
1. Do what you love
“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.”
“Follow your passion and money will follow” – is advice that has been repeated by so many successful people it almost sounds like a cliché. Yet when it comes to making a career and professional decisions, many of us believe that achieving success is about being practical, not about doing what makes us happy day in and day out.
Frankly speaking, you do not have to love your work to receive a handsome paycheck at the end of the month. But you should love what you do to become exceptional at it.
2. Develop beginner’s thinking
“There’s a phrase in Buddhism, ‘Beginner’s mind.’ It’s wonderful to have a beginner’s mind.”
In Zen Buddhism having ‘beginner’s mind’ refers to an attitude of openness, eagerness to learn and lack of preconceptions when approaching a problem or trying to find new possibilities. This is similar to how children approach the world (and how Steve Jobs approached it too).
Do not let your thinking be hardened by your past experiences or your knowledge. Keep learning as if you were beginner. As Zen masters say, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
3. Never fear failure
“I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year…. It’s very character-building.”
About 5 years ago Steve Jobs told Stanford University graduates that his biggest failures turned out to be his biggest blessings. If you look back on your life, you will probably come to the same conclusion – you have learned much more from your mistakes and missteps than you did from your successes.
Do not be afraid to fail. Failure is an integral part of success. It teaches us humility. It strengthens our character. It gives us a rare opportunity to start from scratch and to build something much grander and much more satisfying.
4. Break free from routine
“Kick start your brain. New ideas come from watching something, talking to people, experimenting, asking questions and getting out of the office.”
When we feel stuck and unproductive it is because we are – we are stuck in our office chair and we are stuck in our ‘left-brain’ rational thinking.
Solution? Spice up your routine! Nothing boost optimism, creativity and desire to work more than walking away from your desk and distracting yourself with a cup of tea or a conversation with an interesting person.
5. Say “no” 1000 times
“It’s only by saying no that you concentrate on things that are really important.”
Say ‘no’ to all the distractions that steal your focus and waste your time. Say ‘no’ to unrealistic requests and new commitments that put a strain on you and rob you of your family time. And finally say ‘no’ to the numerous opportunities that lead you away from the worthy goal ahead of you.
6. Believe in yourself
“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do.”
Every decision that we make is influenced by our self-perception and core beliefs. If we think that our efforts are wasted, we will never give it a shot. If we believe that what we do makes a difference, not only in our own life, but in the life of others too, nothing will be able to stop us from trying, even if our chances of success are very slim.
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Five years after Steve Jobs had founded “Macintosh” he was fired from his own company by the person he himself had hired. If he had stopped at that, we probably would not remember his name right now. The fact that he did not care about being the biggest failure in Silicon Valley, the fact that he went on and built two successful multi-million dollar companies before returning to “Apple” and becoming its CEO is what made him so extraordinary.
There are always several roads that lead to the same goal. When one door closes, do not turn around and walk away. Look for another way to get in. It might not be the fastest or the simplest road to success, but it will still get you there. And in the long run it is all that matters.
8. Give back
“You know, we don’t grow most of the food we eat. We wear clothes other people make. We speak a language that other people developed. We use mathematics that other people evolved… I mean, we’re constantly taking things. It’s a wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that puts it back in the pool of human experience and knowledge.”
Do you work for the money or do you work for the cause? Do you feel people owe you something or are you more focused on offering your help if needed? Are you worried that someone could steal your best business ideas or do you give them away for free, because you know that making others successful is the fastest way to succeed?
We can either focus our mind on taking or we can concentrate it on giving. When you start with the idea of how you can contribute to the world instead of what it is that the world owes you, it changes the way you work, the way you interact with people and even the way you eat your lunch.
9. Live with purpose
“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.”
There is really not much to add, except for – Thanks for the inspiration and following your heart, Steve!
Would you like to add anything else?
What have you learned from Steve Jobs? How has his work touched you?