Steve Jobs’ message to 2005 Stanford grads — ‘Live each day as if it were your last’

Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford University rings true today, as the Apple CEO steps down. In his speech, Jobs discussed loving his work and how he faces death.
In his 2005 message to Stanford grads, Steve Jobs advised students that "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." (Photo courtesy of Stanford News Service)

Watch the Full 2005 Stanford Commencement Address >>

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was 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 am 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.”

Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, offered those words to Stanford University graduates in his 2005 commencement address. They took on special resonance  today when he informed Apple’s board of directors that he no longer felt able to fulfill his duties as CEO.

Jobs’  letter of resignation did not cite a reason for his decision to leave. However, it is well publicized that he has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2004 and received a liver transplant in 2009. He has been on a leave of absence from Apple since January.

In today’s letter to the Apple board of directors, Jobs wrote, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

The 2005 commencement address has been viewed nearly 5 million times on YouTube and is a top download on iTunes U. In it, Jobs spoke of his passion for his work, and Apple, despite the fact that it fired him in 1984, before rehiring him in 1997.

“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.”

Watch the Full 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:


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