60-Second Read logo

Are You Still Running On Your Hamster Wheel?

And are you happier for it?

In his 2005 Stanford commencement address, then CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, recalled 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 [Jobs was diagnosed in 2003 with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, and ultimately died at his home on October 5, 2011.] 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.”

In his August 24, 2011 resignation letter (just 6 weeks before his death), Jobs wrote, “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’ 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.