Steve Jobs on Purpose and Values

Newspaper report of Steve Jobs's death in the Suddeutsche Zeitung

Taking the time to identify our purpose and values might seem like a distraction from the urgent priorities we all face. But in a time of change, knowing our purpose and values will bring stability and direction.

Steve Jobs was an imperfect human being like the rest of us. But during his short life he managed to achieve more of the goals he set himself than many of us do.

In his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address, Steve described the philosophy of life that had enabled him to do this. He didn’t use the words ‘values’ or ‘purpose’. Instead he talked about ‘love’, ‘inner voice’, ‘heart’, and ‘intuition’.

Here is what he had to say:

“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…

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.”

Can we all be Steve Jobs? No. Should we want to be? No. But can we learn from his experience? Undoubtedly, yes!

The best way I know to uncover what your “love, inner voice, heart, and intuition” are trying to tell you is to find your purpose and values. Our purpose and values are our love, inner voice, heart, and intuition made actionable.

Getting clarity and then acting on these inner drives and passions enabled Steve Jobs to achieve so much that when he died a newspaper in a far away country called him “Gesicht einer Ära,” “The face of an era.”

Are you clear on what you want to achieve with your too-short life? Would knowing your purpose and values help to make it clearer?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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