Steve Jobs on Purpose and Values

steve-jobsChapter 5 of Inner Leadership asks us to spend time identifying our purpose and values. This might seem like a distraction from the urgent priorities we all face, but the chapter argues that knowing our purpose and values will bring stability and direction in a time of change.

Is this really true? Is it possible to live in line with our purpose and values? What would happen if we did?

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

Do we all want to be Steve Jobs? No. Can we learn from his experience? Yes.

And 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.

Two simple exercises in Chapter 5 enable you to do this. Chapters 1-4 are preparation. Chapters 4, 6, and 7 enable you to put them into practice and use them to guide you as you move forward.

* The newspaper headline “Gesicht einer Ära” calls Jobs “The face of an era”.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By Wolf Gang via

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