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The Speech

by Jason Nemrow last modified 2018-03-29 15:42

I would include the full text of the Stanford commencement speech that Steve Jobs gave, but I am sure I would run up against copyright issues and I am just too lazy to get any official permission to include it here. Due to the wonders of the Internet, you can just read the speech yourself. I will excerpt from it on occassion to make a point and all of these inclusions are permitted under "fair use" laws. I think it would be useful to read the speech now, or listen/watch a recording of it available for the price of a search engine search.

From the Steve Jobs speech:

"After six months [of college], 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. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life."

I had a job at an air force base. I was sent to train on my role and, as it was explained to me, I was struggling to care about it beyond its basic ability to provide for my family. My job only existed to meet a contractual obligation and I found mostly good-natured indifference from others about what I was up to, both in management and from customers. I didn't personally care about anything beyond making progress every day toward some supposed corporate efficiency goal that neither I nor anyone else really believed in. Worse yet, no one else really cared for me to do anything beyond the minimum "progress" required by the contract. As you can imagine, this bred a depressing attitude around my whole work situation. Who wants to be around depression all the time? There are a million ways to feed one's family - you don't have to stick with the first or second way that comes along and live with poor circumstances. You can have better!

According to his speech, the young Steve Jobs was attending college, spending his adoptive parents hard-earned money, and not getting much out of it, a very depressing situation. He decided to "drop-out" of a formal degree and "drop-in" on classes he found interesting instead.

In Steve's defense, I have found that there is something positive to learn in nearly every endeavor. If nothing else, you meet interesting and influential people along the way that can help you forward and perhaps teach you something intrinsically useful. As part of a seemingly "worthless" home economics bachelor's degree program, I took a textiles class. I don't remember much of what I spent a semester "learning", but I developed a great relationship with a very passionate professor who had such a wonderful outlook on life and just happened to have a dissertation's interest in textiles. She was a joy to be around and made the time worthwhile. I found myself wanting to be more like her. That was true of most of my undergraduate professors - they were amazing and inspirational women dedicated to matters of home and hearth and a lot of their enthusiasm toward these things somehow rubbed off on me.

Steve Jobs ended up in a calligraphy class and fell in love with it. He enjoyed the class but didn't see how it would be useful to him until later in life while leading the design of the Macintosh computer, as you will recall from his speech.

The Psychic Proximity Principle can lead us down "strange" roads, or we may take a path that seems of little value at the time. We must trust that there is always some value to what you are about, be it college, or a low-level job, or walking through a different part of town. It may just be you making questionable choices, but it may also be God influencing your life and preparing you for your future, if you are "feeling around" for such things.


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