Steve Jobs – “If Today Were The Last Day Of My Life…”

This is picture of Steve Jobs when he gave us the very first iPhone. I still remember this exact moment. I watched the televised announcement. He stood on that platform like he was Willie Wonka, handing out golden tickets to everyone.

Yesterday, October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs passed away. I can’t believe it.

There was something special about Steve Jobs, when he gave speeches. He was spectacular! There is one that stands out to me. It was spoken as Stanford Universities 114th graduation commencement on June 12, 2005.

Steve Jobs urged those graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks—including death itself. Here are a few highlights from that speech, where Jobs speaks candidly about his own death, just 6 years before it happened.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

It made an impression on me… and since then, for the past 33 years 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’m 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.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything: all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure… these things just fall away in the face of death… leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked; there is no reason not to follow your heart.

(Later in the speech…)

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Right now, the new is you, but someday not to long from now you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited; so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

I just spent 30 minutes to transcribe these notes, only to find out it had already been done! (lol) It’s ok, I’ve now committed these thoughts to memory.

Here is the full-length (15 min) video.

Whereas, I disagree with Steve Jobs’ (apparent) religious beliefs, and I wish he had lived with a different giving philosophy, I am deeply saddened with his death.

This man’s brilliant leadership inspired the world. He definitely inspired me. In my opinion, Steve Jobs was one of the greatest leaders of this past century. He was a legend.

If today were the last day of YOUR life…

This blog is not just about Steve Jobs being an inspirational person. It’s about YOU too!

I ask you, in the words of Steve Jobs, “If today were the last day of your life, would YOU want to do what you’re about to do today?”

If the answer to this question is, and has been “no” for too many days, then something definitely needs to change. Don’t you think?

Right now, the new IS you, but someday not to long from now YOU will gradually become the old and be cleared away.

Your time on earth IS limited; so don’t waste it!

But there is something holding you back. Am I right? There is a reason why you haven’t risen to the heights of your awesome potential? Is it the fear of jealous, bitter people? Is it the fear of big failure? Or something else?

I’ve been held back by these things. I get it. I’ve been there. But this world deserves to benefit from whatever I have to give it. I wrote about this is my new book…

Make Me A Legend, chapter 15

The Trap Of Playing It Safe

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.2

Until you overcome this “deepest fear,” you will unconsciously assassinate your God-sized dream in the hopes of preserving yourself. With this kind of fearful thinking, you will be shunning high success and wishing instead for a lowly life of poverty and rejection.

I call this the trap of playing it safe!

In this book, I speak of angry mobs, and the very real danger of losing yourself on the way up. If you aim to make a difference with your life, you will become a target to every negative force in this universe.

Yes, there is so much to risk! Yet, you and I are stuck with this tameless passion in our sacred hearts. We’re tempted to run away to the safety of a no-challenge life. Yet we are driven with a dream that matters.

Deep inside, we are positive there is a way to change the world and not lose ourselves doing it.

Heck yeah, we can succeed without becoming the biggest jerk in town!

We can lead our billion-dollar companies, sit in high political seats, and even run for president or prime minister—all without having to forfeit our values.

Either we stay right here, try our best to play it safe, and we hurry up and burn this legend book and turn down our greatness so we never have to worry about standing out.

Or, we can take a risk!

And if we fall, then at least we will never be like the “man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”

We will know that:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena (and we will be that person in the arena), whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at worse, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.3

As for me, I cannot bear the thought of living little when I was born to stand out! Can you?

We should not think up a run-of-the-mill dream for ourselves, because we fear potential failure!

If you and I were created for something big, then we should never duck away from God when He smiles in our direction. Instead, we should do everything we can to run our best race with honor, endurance, and a very impressive finish!

The following scripture verses go very well with today’s message. “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:14-20 MSG)

This article is now #1 in Google Search for the famous Steve Jobs speech. I hope it has impacted your life as it has so many others. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for your comments.

Dream Big,

Chuck Balsamo

Ps: Get Your Signed Copy of Make Me A legend NOW!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “Steve Jobs – “If Today Were The Last Day Of My Life…”

  1. Chuck…

    It is interesting that you post this today with questions concerning death and how to start living a better life starting with the very moment anyone reads any portion of this blog.

    As for me, the turning momemnts for me occurred at a few different times in my life: when I was rushed to the hospital in ’07, when I was in given the writing assignment to write my own eulogy in 2 different writing classes and when I realized how we are humans must “die” to our old habits/ways in order to live a more fulfilling life.

    Yet, I think that is why I am facing so much indifferences with those that were once close to me for two reasons.

    * I’ve come to love God more than anything or anyone
    * I don’t use “cosmetics” to cover up real life problems

    And, in hindsight, like a driver looking in the rearview mirror, I realize now that I have benen digesting the “Ten Commandments” to a “profound” degree in the human eye, but for God only. It is as if I come to really understand that I am a dream catcher, in the sense that I want to see dreams become a reality in the lives of others becaue of the Divine power found within a spoken word as described in Jeremiah 1.

    Wow! I just surprised myself with what I just wrote. I am just as speechless as can be. Now, I see and understand what the prophetic minister was really telling me a severel years ago when he said, “the glory of God is so strong on you, I am speechless; I only want to praise God with you…don’t worry about what others said, did and didn’t like, God sees it all and wants you to keep doing what you do”

    …and thank you Chuck for reconfirming what others have prophetically pronounced and thank you for encouraging me like someone who reignites the flame to a fire when all the flames have gone out.