Several months ago I received a flurry of emails from friends and clients, who were forwarding me either a link to a YouTube video of Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address to the graduating seniors of Stanford University, or a transcript of that same speech. I’m not sure why it was making the rounds then, but it doesn’t matter. To say the speech was inspiring, engaging and very humanly real would be an understatement. He was definitely speaking from his heart to ours.
With Steve’s recent passing, another client forwarded me a quote from that same speech. Once again I was moved by his clear, straightforward message to follow your heart – first and always. Below are two of my favorite excerpts from his commencement address, both of which speak to themes that are central to my work in helping clients create work – to create lives – they love. Here is the first one:
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life (my emphasis), karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Clients who have worked with me know that I often use the analogy of following the breadcrumbs, or holding a flashlight that illuminates only your next step, to convey the mystery of our inner guidance. It doesn’t lay out a five-year plan, and that’s a good thing!
I have come to understand that our inner guidance is connected to – in some real way is an aspect of – the Divine Intelligence that guides the very expansion and evolution of the universe. It understands paradox and flow and interconnectedness in a way our linear minds simply cannot.
And because we are inherently creative beings, we are constantly creating – our future is not fixed. Step-by-step guidance reflects and respects this truth. Our own creative impulses trigger the guidance we need in that moment…and then the next, and the next. There is no set plan, just a continual unfolding. As we learn to trust this more and more – to trust in Life itself, as Steve suggests – we can follow the dots into our deeply fulfilling, heart-centered future. Here is the second quote from his commencement speech I love:
“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 down 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.”
Again he eloquently emphasizes the absolute necessity of listening to your own inner voice, your heart and intuition. They’re connected to your soul’s true longings, and they do indeed know what you want to become. He also uses the word courage, which most of us on this journey find very appropriate. It can feel daunting to say “no” to the many rules, beliefs and expectations of our families and communities and culture – not to mention how difficult it is to say “no” to the naggingly persistent voice of fear and doubt within our own minds.
We literally have to learn how to think differently, how to think from that deep inner well of wisdom and creativity. We have to learn how to navigate through fear and doubt. And – this is essential – we have to learn how to cultivate a strong, resilient foundation of self-love as we commit to this journey. In the absence of that love, none of this makes sense.
Most of us need a little support and, yes, training as we shift from “having a job” to “living a life.” And providing that support is my greatest passion. I know I might sound like a broken record, but hey – some messages simply bear repeating, if only because it can be so difficult to grasp their full impact the first – or fiftieth! – time around. And here’s the message, in the words of someone else who has inspired me on my own path, Tama Kieves:
“You can do this. You must do this! You don’t want to miss this life!”