This month’s issue formed from the convergence of several recent events:

– I read the August McKinsey Quarterly Report “The US Employment Challenge” (You may have to register, but it’s free.)
– Steve Jobs resigned as Apple CEO.
– I watched Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address (here’s the text version as well).

Here’s how they fit together:

In the McKinsey Report, Kelly Services CEO, Carl Camden, writes:
“So jobs aren’t permanent, locations aren’t permanent, and workers are returning back to what I would call a free-agent type of work style. Independent contractors, part-time employees who move in and out of the workforce, temporary employees, consultants who move in and out of the workforce – that group of individuals in most of the industrialized world is already 25 to 35 percent of the workforce, on its way to becoming 50 percent of the workforce, I think, over the next decade.”

In his resignation letter, Steve Jobs states:
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”
Jobs was diagnosed in 2003 with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, had a liver transplant in 2009, and is currently battling pancreatic neuroendocrine disease. It is apparent he faces a very difficult, uphill climb.

In his 2005 Stanford commencement address, Jobs recalls a childhood memory:
“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…

“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….

“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.”

So the McKinsey article reminds us that if we stand still, we run the risk of stagnating. We need to be flexible, continue to develop our skills and capabilities, and see the ongoing change as challenging opportunity.

Jobs’ letter reminds us that how things play out or end may not always be our preferred choice, or even our choice.

His commencement address underscores what we all know but infrequently honor or live to the fullest extent: that while we have the time, freedom, and opportunity to choose how we live and lead, we continually run the risk of staying on our running wheel, convinced that if we run faster or longer, we’ll be happier or wiser.

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What changes have you made in how you live and lead? Post your examples and your thoughts for other readers.

View others’ comments.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • It’s ironic that one glaring factor that keeps people running on the hamster wheel is health insurance. Steve Jobs is stepping down due to health but can afford to do so. Many people with chronic health problems don’t dare leave employment for risk of losing health coverage. Even young people have chronic health conditions such as type 1 diabetes. Despite the new health plan being implemented it is still very problematic for a person over the age of 26 with a chronic disease to risk or afford not having an employer. In other words, following their heart may cost them their lives even though not following their heart can do the same.

    I am a strong supporter of getting off the hamster wheel and hope to provide tools to people to do just that. But I also see the realities that some people face and it is harder to get off that wheel than it might appear at first glance. Here’s hoping we as a society can change that!

    Reply
  • Life is short, and life is all about relationships, what you do with them and what you don’t. That’s why just about everthing in life is a choice. I too am a strong supporter in getting off the hamster wheel. Life your life to the fullest, and enjoy every day above ground. A honorable life lived is a good gift to those left behind.

    Reply

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