I have a bachelor degree and two master degrees. I can’t remember one word from the Commencement addresses. Actually I skipped two of the ceremonies, but from the one that I did attend – I can’t remember a word. I wonder if someone like Steve Jobs had spoken – would it have had an impact on my pursuit for financial freedom. The following is an excerpt from Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford’s class of 2005.
“I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. 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. “
Did any of the students take his advice to heart? If they were anything like me – I was simply looking forward to my first paycheck. I majored in engineering, because I had a strong math and science background. Love didn’t have anything to do with it. Matter of fact, doing what you loved was a foreign concept to me. I was taught to do what you are good at. Unbeknownst to me I was settling.
More from Jobs’ address:
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.
I am quite certain this address would have gone in one of my ears and out the other. It took several years of showing up to work every day at 7:45am. I am an early riser, but I can think of better places to be at 7:45am. It took several years of watching Uncle Sam take an unfair share of each paycheck. It took several years of doing what I truly loved in the short hours remaining after working a day job. It took several years of life’s lessons, before I realized that a high school kid had determined my destiny.
Paul Graham explains it well in his article “How to Do What you Love.”
A friend of mine who is a quite successful doctor complains constantly about her job. When people applying to medical school ask her for advice, she wants to shake them and yell “Don’t do it!” (But she never does.) How did she get into this fix? In high school she already wanted to be a doctor. And she is so ambitious and determined that she overcame every obstacle along the way– including, unfortunately, not liking it.
Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.
Obviously you are not completely locked into a path chosen at 18, but the forces - primarily money and prestige make changing very difficult.
Having Steve Jobs speak at my commencement wouldn’t have had an immediate impact on me. I was already locked and loaded. However, maybe in my deep subconsciousness I would have become more aware of my inner voice. Listening to your inner voice is the first step towards travelling the treacherous pathways to Financial Freedom.