“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.” - Steve Jobs
I HAVE often wondered why somebody with university education will graduate from school and hope that the only thing they can do with their degree is to look for a job. And very often, the jobs are not available. If you graduate from university or any tertiary institution and there is no employer willing or able to take you on, what will you do? Will you just sit and wait or complain about the system? Many get really frustrated.
You know why people get frustrated when they don’t get a job? It’s because they are thinking success and not significance. They are preoccupied with survival not substance. They want to get a salary but they don’t want to invest their scholastic treasure. To many of those people, their picture of success is that of a suite-and-tie dressed person with a nice car, great family and able to afford a good meal in a fine restaurant. What a narrow picture to have?!
On June 12, 2005 when Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955-2011) delivered the Commencement Address at Stanford University he crowned his address with an awkward advice. He emphatically told the graduating students that his wish for them was that they would “stay hungry” and “stay foolish.” Steve Jobs was not calling for a hunger strike when he gave that advice to those graduating students.
What Jobs implied was that, if you want to pursue meaning and significance in life, you will be hungry and will be deemed foolish. Instead of merely looking for a job that pays you a good salary and gives you a comfortable life, you should pursue that which gives you meaning. After just six months in Reeds College, Jobs dropped out. Why did he do so? He told the Stanford community why:
“After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.”
He admitted however that, “It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.”
That was Jobs’ path and it was very foolish for him to have left the university. And he paid dearly for that. No degree. No accommodation. No decent meal. Complete loss of comfort and dignity. Foolish and hungry he was. But that was only for a while. Ten years later, a venture he had started in his parents’ garage at 20 was worth $2 billion with over 4000 employees. It is this venture that gave the world Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, iMac and many more. Yes, he was hungry and foolish initially but now we know that he was not foolish and his initial hunger was a price he chose to pay to be great.
In Ghana, the norm is that after graduating from college, one must get a job that pays a salary. Many graduates of today feel that the government and society owe them a job. Family members expect that once you’ve graduated from college, the next thing is to get a job and start dishing out notes and coins. No sir, no madam!
In that same Commencement Address, Steve Jobs also entreated his audience, “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.”
Getting a job is nice but before thinking of a job, discover what you really love and that which gives you true meaning and satisfaction in life. After that, you can look for a job or create your own job out of that.
© 2011 Terry Mante