Day 115 - Visionaries
I have heard the word “Visionary” too many times. It is often given to someone who has come up with an idea or two and who has a great deal of charisma that carries the fame for a very long time. But one or two ideas, however good, are not the definition of “visionary” in my book. It’s the definition of “a good idea.”
A Visionary is someone who can see beyond the here and now, who can visualize the potential of something - or someone - and blaze the trail that leads to that potential. And then repeat it, over an over again. A Visionary is someone with more than one good idea, and who either helps others achieve their potential, or who works with others to create it.
There are not as many Visionaries in the world as we would like to believe, and today we lost one of the best. Steve Jobs died today. We can talk about all the innovations he brought to life, but what has affected me the most is, irrespective of any foibles or character flaws, he saw the potential in others.
His Stanford Commencement Address in 2005 is one of the most inspired speeches I’ve ever heard. No, I wasn’t there; I heard bits and pieces of it on the radio today, and eventually listened to the whole thing online; I was deeply affected by it. I pulled up the transcript and have bookmarked it on my computer (a MacBook Pro). I intend to read it often, and to allow it to influence my choices moving forward.
I want to share a few excerpts from it that mean a lot to me.
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And 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. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.”
“...I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
And most powerful of all:
“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.”
Steve Jobs was a true Visionary. Though I never knew him, and I even began to purchase his products only recently, his impact on me has been profound. It took his death and the resulting deluge of news sources quoting him again and again in tribute to his contributions to society for me to find out about this commencement speech. I wonder if the world was robbed of a talented giant, or if, in fact, early death has offered him a kind of immortality bestowed only on those who leave us before we think they should.
I don’t want to waste my time living someone else’s life, or trapped by other people’s thinking. I know what I truly want to become.
Thank you, Steve. Thank you.