Steve Jobs' Resignation Reminds Us to Live Fully in Face of Death

Steve JobsToday the legendary Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, Inc., leaving behind one of the most incredible imprints the world of technology has ever seen. Tim Cook, the current COO, has been named his successor.

In a brief but heartfelt letter of resignation, 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."

Unfortunately, indeed. While he didn't speak directly to his health condition, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004. It was said to be a treatable form of the disease, but his gaunt physical appearance in the last year has sparked plenty of speculation that his health is declining. The announcement today certainly makes it seem more likely that speculation may be accurate, but whether it is or not, his decision today was almost certainly driven by thoughts of death.

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While he's taught us all an amazing array of lessons about persistence, hard work, and business, it's how he has always embraced death and been inspired by it that has made the most lasting impression on me.

In 2005 he gave an amazingly powerful commencement address at Stanford University. While it's been quoted far and wide, this part is worth quoting again in light of today's news, and really as an important lesson any day for us and for our children. He started by sharing a quote he discovered when he was about 17: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." He said that more than anything drove his career and life choices.

... 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.

He went on to say that remembering he'll be dead soon is one of the most important tools he's used throughout his life.

Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Likely now more than ever, he's embracing this philosophy, and made his resignation decision based on it. Good luck to him on whatever path his heart takes him.

How has Steve Jobs inspired you?


Image via YouTube

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