…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.
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.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Steve Jobs – Commencement Speech to Stanford University 2005.
Whenever we look to famous and highly successful people, there’s always a theme in their personal story of success. A theme of finding what you love, taking risks, being foolish and not settling until you’ve found your calling in life. These people’s autobiographies fly off the shelves as we thirst for whatever recipe made them who they are and hope we can mix the recipe in with our own mundane lives and escape whatever it is we are trapped within. We read their stories with awe and – even if only for a brief moment after putting the book down – we genuinely believe that success is about not giving up, no matter what the circumstances.
Firstly, I agree with what Steve has said here (this is ironic because it’s his very words here which inspired me to quit my job at Apple), I do agree with the above quote, however, society – our friends, family, colleagues and loved ones… even ourselves – constantly engage in behaviour that undermines such ‘risks’, contradicts any notions of ‘not settling’ and certainly does not condone being ‘foolish’. Comments such as “he still hasn’t settled down”, or “she can’t hold a job down for more than a year” or “he’s lost” reinforce this notion.
When I was 23, my second Uncle told me I was “lost” because I had dabbled in too many jobs… He even offered to help me with my CV. He deleted half of it and sent it back to me with one line in the email; “less is more in the business world”. I’m not sure what ‘business’ he was in, but he then mysteriously disappeared (again) to the middle east on his latest ‘venture’ and no one’s heard from him since. My point is a lot of people give advice, claim to be experts, but in the end, it’s about following your heart and ignoring the dickheads in life.
Think about it… How many times have you been stuck in an awful job, a dire financial situation or circumstance that needs some immediate change, even if a change means taking a risk at something new, however, the advice of everyone around you has always begun with the same two words:…
“At least you have a job for now, some people don’t”
“At least it’s only temporary”
“At least you have enough money for a roof over your head”
“At least you work for a good company”
“At least you have a partner…”
“At least you’re doing better than <insert anyone in the world who isn’t doing as well as you – there are plenty!>”
“At Least” – Is perhaps the most atrocious attempt at empathy and human connection. As humans we try to find positives in another person’s situation, trying to paint their shitty circumstance with some cheap silver lining that we know will just wash off the next time it rains for them – yet we point out these desperate ‘positives’ to that person in an attempt to make them feel better and ‘look on the bright side’… I’ve got news for you… It doesn’t make anyone ever feel any better!
“At least” screams a subtext of ‘stop whinging you unappreciative spoilt brat, you’re doing better than most people so appreciate what you’ve got’. In most circumstances this mindset – even on a subconscious level – causes people to remain in their crap circumstance as they constantly battle to subdue their inner voice which screams and cries for freedom and change and ignore following their heart as they attempt to ‘be appreciative’ for whatever mediocre situation they are in. Eventually, the inner-voice gives up and dies out and before we know it we’re old and spent the majority of our lives doing something we don’t enjoy.
I call this ‘mediocracy trauma’ which ends up having emotional, psychological and physical effects on the person who wants more, but feels they shouldn’t complain. The fact is, you will always be better of than someone else, this doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams and not reach for the moon if that’s what you want!
Don’t get me wrong… There are indeed serial victims and complainers in this world who will never be happy and there is absolute scientific (and spiritual) evidence that positive thinking and not resisting ‘what is’ has enormous positive effects. However, that doesn’t mean you throw your hopes, dreams and ambitions out the window and just be positive as you commute to some dreadful 9-5 job you hate in order to collect your minimum wage. You accept, but at the same time you ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ and don’t settle until you find what you love.
I’m a big believer in following your intuition and what you know to be right. Your gut feeling is often your best indicator of your subconscious. like the restless energetic buzz in the air just as the weather changes, when that first gust of wind hits you out of nowhere before a big storm, sometimes everything just suddenly feels alive and full-of-energy… this is what I believe, true intuition feels like. I’ve written a previous blog about how following this very intuition literally saved my life a few years ago!
I do believe that we are in tune with something… The universe, God, destiny, whatever you want to call it, and if we feel restless, unsettled, unhappy then we should take action and make changes. Changes that make everything feel alive again. All of these biographies of famous folks have a theme – taking a leap of faith by taking a risk in the face of ‘acceptable’ circumstances and many ‘At Least’ situations. It’s not as if they were even driven to change based on life-threatening circumstances but rather, took a risk that felt right when the other options seemed much more sensible.
No matter how ‘good’ of a job you have, how ‘lucky’ you are to have whatever it is, If your heart tells you this is not it or that you want more, follow it… Don’t let the premise of ‘at least’ cause you to settle, lose your hunger.
So next time a friend or family comes to you with a problem, concern or voice their thoughts… Don’t begin your sentence with “at least”.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Stay Restless.