Rest in Peace Steve Jobs. As you must know by now the co-founder of Apple died last Wednesday 5th October, age 56. I’ve just sat here and watched him delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005 (you can find it on YouTube – www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA). The speech is very moving, simple and honest – if you haven’t seen it I’d say it’s worth 15 minutes of your time.
Don’t you ever find yourself wondering “What’s the difference that makes the difference with people like that?” There he is up on stage, just another human being talking frankly about his life, and sharing some things he’s learnt for the benefit of the graduating students present. Now he’s dead, the sentence already passed on every living being. Yet he was different, and in that he lives on. He was different enough to be instrumental in creating the Apple Mac computer, that has revolutionised computing and thereby the world. He mentions in his speech that he started Pixar (who pioneered feature length computer animated films). And most lately of course his company is responsible for the ipod/phone/mac. So a true innovator, and a sad loss for the world.
I think the thing that most struck me about the man, watching that speech, was that he spoke from the heart. It’s always refreshing to see someone who is in the public eye just be themselves with no airs and graces. And perhaps that is where the difference lies. I’m beginning to think that perhaps that’s what sets true geniuses, innovators and trendsetters apart. Perhaps it isn’t the brilliance of their ideas. After all we all have mind-blowing ideas from time to time – how often have you seen some new invention come up and said “Hey I thought of that last year!” Perhaps, just perhaps, it has more to do with the fact that they’re not afraid to be themselves, and to stand up for what they believe in. Everybody has ideas, THEY follow up on their ideas, and have the guts to offer them to the world. Look at the big people in our history – Einstein, Van Gogh, Picasso, Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte , Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi , Princess Diana, Thomas Edison, Mohamed Ali, the Dalai Lama, John Lennon even J.K. Rowling, to name but a disparate few. Every one of them a striking and unique individual. Every one of them bold enough to offer their personal gift to the world, without apology.
Steve Jobs himself touches on this idea during said speech:
“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 if you truly want to make your mark on the world and share your gift with humanity, isn’t it time you started to live in accordance with your truest beliefs? Isn’t it time to really be yourself? I say this as much to myself as anyone. I think it’s something most of us really struggle with, because being authentic is a risky business. We risk being ostracised or ridiculed. We risk losing friends. We risk feeling stupid or the odd one out and we risk failure. Scary isn’t it? In times gone by if you were chucked out of your community that meant exposure to the elements and predators and almost certainly an early death, so it’s probably programmed into each and every human being to conform, purely for the sake of safety. It’s actually known that the best ideas usually get laughed out of town before they’re accepted as fact. I guess you have to weigh up the benefit of being safe and boring or living it large, and taking some risks.
Which leads me to one of my favourite quotes:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, shouting GERONIMO!” Hunter S. Thompson from Hell’s Angels
Wanna be a trend setter? Wanna be the next Steve Jobs or J.K. Rowling? The truth is, you can never be them. You can only be the one and only authentic you. Starting TODAY.
My wish for you (and for myself!) this week is that we take some time out from the tumult around us, and tune in to the quiet yet persistent inner voice within each of us. That we listen well and act on those flashes of inspiration that come to us. The voice gets louder, and the ideas get better the more you listen. Your inspiration deepens, and the power of your creative though becomes more far reaching, the more you invite it into your life and the more you share it. Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy. You’re just tapping in to your own truth, and the deepest wisdom sitting there in the Universe waiting for you, just you, to claim it and proclaim it aloud. Draw down that gift that’s yours to give, and share it with existence – that’s your birthright, and your obligation.
Wishing you a deeply inspired, authentic week –
When we camp out, we don’t mess about – it’s like moving house … and then two weeks later doing the same thing in reverse. Every year, as I get the roof box down off the car, narrowly avoiding the kitchen window and several children, shlep all the tentage, camping chairs and camp cookware back into the loft and process enough dirty laundry to make a washer-woman weep, the thought crosses my mind … ‘is it really worth it?’ The answer is always ‘Absolutely, Yes!’ and here’s why …
This year we camped in the Lake District. The weather was fantastic, we were perhaps 10 paces from the shores of Ullswater and had ducks and swans as well as their various babies for company. The kids who are rarely what you might call ‘well manicured’ over the course of the two weeks became positively feral. I mostly kept my mobile off and gradually slipped into the rhythm of a simpler life. Wake with the sun, chill out and marvel at stunning lake, experiment with camping-style pancakes for breakfast, mull over whether we actually need to go anywhere as we are already there, progress to possible outing, or just walk down to lake and let kids get soaked and muddy as they hatch plans for taking a duckling home or build a jetty out of stones. Have lunch at some point, hang out and read to kids at the swings, put together barbeque for dinner. Get everyone changed for bed as the day gets older and sleep with the sun. Next morning another variation of the same.
It took almost a week for the rat-race to fall from my shoulders. I felt lighter somehow and more in tune. The one telephone client I did work with over the course of the holiday commented a couple of times that I seemed more perceptive than usual and was just ‘picking things up’. It didn’t matter what day of the week it was or even what time of day it was … in a sense it even became a bit of a meditative experience.
Two weeks later here we are back home again, most of the aftermath cleared away, and school looming on the horizon. So I ask myself, what souvenirs did I come home with? Well I did come home with a realistic-looking egg made of bouncy rubber that has been safely installed in my mother in law’s fridge, but I’m talking about a different kind of souvenir. You know you always learn something in meditation. That’s the point of this week’s post really. Many of us have been away, or at least had a break to our usual routine so what have we come back with? This is really a yearly opportunity to see things with fresh eyes. Personally, one thing I’ve realised is that I’m juggling far more balls than I knew I was. Life can be a bit like that, one responsibility after another sneaking up onto your back. You may well find the same thing in your life. We need to ask ourselves ‘How much of this is necessary and useful, and what can I just drop?’ Dropping dead weight leaves us more energy for the things we really care about. In reassessing where we place our energies, now is also a great time to ask ‘Am I really getting the juice out of my life? What could I add or change to make my life even more fulfilling?’ Finally, I think this is a time for gratitude. Sometimes we need time out from our lives so that we can come back and really appreciate what we already have. Gratitude attracts an abundance of everything good and we have so much to be grateful for, even on the simplest levels. Having returned from living on a field for two weeks I find myself really grateful for running water, central heating and indoor loos for a start!
So I leave you with these three post summer holiday questions:
1- Have I any commitments that are redundant and can be dropped?
2- What would I like to bring into my life now?
3- What do I have in my life that I can be truly and newly grateful for?
Have a fantastic and fulfilling week, and –why not? – a fabulous year ahead!