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3 Lessons We Can Learn From Steve Jobs

 If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?

For 33 years, Steve Jobs asked himself this question every single morning. If his answer happened to be 'no' for several days in a row, he knew he had to change something about how he was living his life.

This is something I believe we should all be asking ourselves every single day.

Do you know what depression feels like? For me, it feels like being afraid of heights and yet having to live on the top floor of a 22-story building. As I look out the window, wonder and curiosity about all that could be strikes me.

I look behind me and see a fire approaching. My two options are to jump out of the window and to my rescue (firefighters are waiting to catch me) or allow fear to dictate my actions and remain stagnant, being burned alive.

Both are seemingly impossible/scary choices, right?

Not really.

For over 9 years, my depression made me its victim. I woke up every single morning and the first thing on my calendar before my cup of coffee were all the regrets I carried around with me.

Regrets of missed opportunities, mistakes not corrected, the relationships I could have built, the love I could have allowed myself to give and receive, etc.

The list of 1,000 things goes on. I traveled to and from work, feeling envious of all the people who were everything I thought I could never be.

Ultimately, all the pain in my life derived from trying so hard to be someone I never was, holding onto things that were never truly mine.

Your life has a duration of the unknown. Make use of it by following your heart because, at the end of the day, when your time comes, all the money in the world won’t matter.

The smiles you leave behind, the things you’ve contributed to the world, those are the things that will tell your story; and as the saying goes, ‘one day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.’

If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.

It’s true. A lot of us spend time passively assuming that we’re going to be alive forever, so we disguise our fears as practicality and fail to question what it is we’re actually doing with our lives until it’s too late.

Remember that why you do something is just as important as what you’re doing. Living a practical life with no passion, purpose, and risk will only lead you to say your last words: “If only…”

Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

Do you know the great thing about a blank page for a writer? It has yet to be filled with all its possibilities.

A lot of us, for some reason, are afraid to be beginners again because we fear to look bad in the eyes of others.

The reality is, you have to be a beginner first if you are to go from ‘student’ to ‘master.’ You have to fall in love with the process of doing without worrying about how you look in action.

Children are the greatest examples of this. They do what they do for love, and to hell with everything else.

Caring about what others think will prevent us from doing anything substantial in our lives, and what we choose to do with action will always matter more than how we feel. Feelings are fleeting; they come and go, like the weather. Time wasted cannot be returned to you. Feelings are also often blind spots.

Being over-familiar with one thing is like not being familiar with anything at all.

Think about a painter. He’s in the process of painting the portrait of a beautiful woman (his late wife). This painting represents good memories and bad ones, and the beauty he saw in her. His heart is heavy with emotions.

When he’s done, he sees the final product and deems it successful. People seem to like it, too. What happens now? He moves onto his next painting, which will tell a different story. He’s now a beginner again, at painting something completely new.

I have adopted such a mindset. Each day, I am reborn and every experience is my first experience, old failures wiped out of memory. This way I can always start anew.

Diversification is the key ingredient to success, while grit is the only reliable trait that leads to success.

There’s something beautiful about letting go of all the things that were once ours; it’s so that we can make room for new things to sprout. It is only in the interval after we let something go, that new things can come to us, anyway. We cannot pour water into a cup that’s full. We must empty it first.

Moreover, we can never add to ourselves, as we’re already complete. We add to whatever we do. That being said, never forget to detach, because nothing adds value to you. You add value to whatever that thing is. There’s no need for attachment here.

Work hard, obtain it, but then let it go and learn something new again. Never stop changing, growing, and evolving, adding your knowledge to your arsenal.

It’s how identity works, too. Do you think you’re ‘you’? There is no you, as identity is just attachment. A cluster of beliefs, experiences, and morals you hold onto.

But as soon as you let that go, if you wish to, you have an opportunity to be someone else entirely. We’re all actors on the stage of life, writing our own screenplay.

Never forget this one truth. Nothing is permanent in this world, not even identity. We’re ever-changing, like water, taking the shape of whatever we throw ourselves into; experiences, beliefs, ideas, actions, etc.

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, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

I’ll follow up with another quote:

The future is, of course, an illusion. Nothing has happened there yet. What Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, California, we may say of the future: there is no ‘there’ there. Among Marshall McLuhan’s many intriguing metaphors, the most paradoxical one is his reference to “rearview mirror” thinking. All of us, he said, are speeding along a highway with our eyes fixed on the rearview mirror, which can tell us only where we have been, not what lies ahead. — Building A Bridge To The 18th Century

In other words, any foresight we have into the future is purely a projection of what has already happened: hindsight.

If you want a bright future, you must stop dwelling on what might be. Instead, look back at your history to see what was, and analyze what you want to keep, change, and discard, so that you have an idea of which road you wish to take. You can’t let past failures prevent future success. Trust that the road you’re on will lead you somewhere great. That’s all you can do, after all.

Play life as well as you can and do what you can with what you have to work with; and again, remember: what you choose to do will always matter more than how you feel. Feelings can be blindspots, but taking actions objectively will lead you closer to success.

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