Steve Jobs on Purpose and Values


Spending 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 in his short life he achieved more of the goals he set himself than many of us do.

In his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address, Steve summarised the philosophy his life experience had taught him. 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? No. Can we learn from his experience? Yes.

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

When Steve Jobs died, one German newspaper called him “The face of an era” (“Gesicht einer Ära”). Being clear on his purpose and his values helped him to achieve that.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By Wolf Gang via

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