Reflection On Steve Jobs’S Famous Commencement Speech

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In Steve Jobs’s famous commencement speech, he inspires the graduating students of Stanford University in preparation for successful futures. Although what Jobs states is motivating and captures life experiences, I believe this speech is not appropriate for the specific audience. I perceive his story as one for those who have had rough lives with no upcoming signs of improvement, not for the graduates of a prestigious university such as Stanford University. Steve Jobs is an exception to society and the knowledge he shares in his speech is not very relatable or helpful for a majority of the graduating Stanford students.

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Steve Jobs shares three stories from his life that were crucial to his success, claiming it will have a similar effect for the graduates at Stanford. His first story is about connecting the dots, and how all the choices that seemed like the wrong ones at the time turned out to be promising later on in his life. “So I decided to drop out and trust that everything would be okay. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life”. He continues on glimpsing at how he decided to drop out of college, which would later become one of the best decisions he made. Jobs states “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” which contradicts the lives of many college students. His notion defies the reason for why most people go to college: to complete courses that will help them in their desired field of work. Students are connecting the dots from the present to the future, not in reverse. Jobs used his illustration of dropping out of college and ultimately building his monumental company to support his idea of connecting the dots backwards. He is applying his very circumstantial life to countless other people: if Jobs stayed in college he may have learned material from his computer science courses that would have led him on an even more successful path; however, events also could have gone worse: for instance, after dropping out of college, something may have gone wrong, and he could have never recovered. Therefore, his idea about connecting the dots looking backwards is very circumstantial, and is not helpful to a majority of those listening.

Jobs’ second story is about love, loss and how he continued to pursue the thing he loved, even after losing it. Again, luck takes a part in finding what you love as Jobs states, “I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life.” A short time after hiring a co-partner to assist in running Apple, Jobs got fired from his own company. He referred back to his connecting the dots theory to conclude “getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened” to him. Looking back, it would seem like it was worth getting fired, but no one knows what could have happened if he never did get fired. The two of them could have made Apple exceptionally more successful than what it is today, or after getting fired he could have stopped working in the field entirely. Jobs believed his success would not have happened on nearly the same scale if he was never fired from Apple. He realized that the only reason he never gave up was because of his passion for the field, and wanted to continue doing it. With this, he encouraged the graduates to search for what they love. Although this is respectable advice, it still involves a heap of luck, and is an unattainable task for many individuals. Doing what you truly love for a living is hard to come by and is a reach for most, even today.

In his last story, Jobs reviews his exposure to death and how it changed his way of thinking. When Steve Jobs was in his late teens, he came across a quote which impacted him greatly. Every morning he would look in the mirror and ask himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”. I found this hard to relate to, as presumably any other college student would. If it were my last day of living, the normal routine I go through would be the last thing on my mind. I also struggle to believe any college student would go to class and do homework and such on their last day. However, doing such is necessary to get to where these students want to be. Jobs concluded if he answered no to his question too often, he would know that something needed to be changed. For most people, the answer would be no every day because no one truly wants to do homework for a class they don’t care about or go to work at a job that they have no desire of. As human beings, especially in society today, we are preordained to want more of something, and we are never truly content. Steve Jobs is an exception to society; the knowledge he shares in his speech is not relatable or helpful for a majority of the graduating Stanford students. His experiences in life are someone else’s fantasies. Among the reasons Jobs gives for why things panned out for him in the end were hard work, dedication and luck. Most of the time hard work and dedication simply is not enough, and luck is nowhere to be found, which results in failure.

I personally believe reaching for something you love shows both courage and ignorance. Yes, if one does achieve something they love, it could ultimately lead to a life full of happiness; however, reaching that goal is difficult. Jobs urges the fellow graduates to never settle, but not settling and reaching for something unreachable could lead to someone not resting or appreciating any work they’ve completed. I believe success is what leads to a happy life but many will never truly reach the success they dream for.

11 February 2020

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