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.But he, like everyone else, invented himself within the confines of the world he was born in. The very words Jobs uses to extol individuality here are clichés. That's not really his fault; this passage comes from a commencement speech, a form that requires a standardized message. Where does this particular cliché come from?
From the counterculture movement of the 1960s:
And here is the thing I find most interesting about Steve Jobs and Apple. There are in America lots of people (Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, for example) who support capitalism but despise the counterculture, and I spent this afternoon at a counterculture rally denouncing capitalism. Jobs and his fellow personal computer pioneers merged these nearly opposite things. They went into business with the aim of empowering people to define their own lives, and they created tools that allowed millions of us to publish ourselves, write our own games, and construct our own online realities. They got rich furthering the dreams of the anti-establishment movement.
After dropping out of Reed College, a stronghold of liberal thought in Portland, Ore., in 1972, Mr. Jobs led a countercultural lifestyle himself. He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.
Decades later he flew around the world in his own corporate jet, but he maintained emotional ties to the period in which he grew up. He often felt like an outsider in the corporate world, he said. When discussing the Silicon Valley’s lasting contributions to humanity, he mentioned in the same breath the invention of the microchip and “The Whole Earth Catalog,” a 1960s counterculture publication.
What made Jobs unique among computer magnates was his legendary sense of style. Here he merged other nearly opposite things, technical savvy and artistic enthusiasm. He was the original hipster, the pioneer of a generation of digital artists and cool geeks.
So when I said that Steve Jobs, like everyone else, was limited in inventing himself by the world he lived in, I did not mean that our society defined his choices. On the contrary he picked from the ideas and opportunities of our world to create for himself a unique role, as our foremost computer magnate/ digital filmmaker/ design maestro/ lifestyle guru.
The lesson I draw from his life is not the "seek your passion" pablum that Jobs himself sometimes peddled. It is to reject the arbitrary boundaries and divisions of your society. Why not be a counterculture businessman, or a stylish geek? Here is my idea of asserting individuality: refuse to be defined and limited by the categories you find yourself in.
Jobs had cancer for years before he died, and he spoke frequently about death. He said, in the more original part of that same commencement speech,
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. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.Steve Jobs certainly did not, and while I mourn his death I also celebrate his achievement.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.