Steve Jobs on doing what you love

by Jeff Hilimire on January 18, 2014

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…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. 

I miss that guy, but even more importantly, I think Apple misses that guy.

  • David Felfoldi

    Jeff: There was a very timely article on the concept of “doing what you love”, and how while well intentioned it may be for as sound career advice, it may masks some realities for the majority of workers.

    For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love—which is, in fact, most labor—is erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from our consciousness.

    Think of the great variety of work that allowed Jobs to spend even one day as CEO. His food harvested from fields, then transported across great distances. His company’s goods assembled, packaged, shipped. Apple advertisements scripted, cast, filmed. Lawsuits processed. Office wastebaskets emptied and ink cartridges filled. Job creation goes both ways. Yet with the vast majority of workers effectively invisible to elites busy in their lovable occupations, how can it be surprising that the heavy strains faced by today’s workers—abysmal wages, massive child care costs, etc.—barely register as political issues even among the liberal faction of the ruling class?

    There is also this discussion of why Do What You Love may be bad advise for creatives.

    1. Most gifted people don’t have one overriding passion.

    2. The money just might not follow.

    3. The search for one’s passion can be a distraction from living in the present.

    4. Your bliss can become hell once it becomes a job.

    5. Steve Jobs didn’t follow his own advice.

  • David Felfoldi

    Jeff: Here is a counter post for your consideration:

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Thanks, looking forward to reading it! Added it to Pocket ;)

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