Following Your Passions

Steve Jobs was best known as a man who followed his passions.  With his recent passing, I found a commencement speech that he gave to Stanford University graduates provided an interesting view on his accomplishments. In his speech he reflected on his life, his successes and his failures. You can either view his address or read the transcript here. It is worthwhile reading or viewing.

Gary North recently wrote about his own impressions on Job’s speech. I have some of my own observations to offer as well.


Regarding college education, Jobs found it to be:

  • extremely expensive
  • most of the courses to be of little value yet required in order to graduate
  • some courses were very useful and could be taken for free if not concerned with getting credit for them

These observations mirror my own regarding college. Now I know that education, especially college education is considered to be sacrosanct in this country, yet I find its value similar to what Jobs found it to be. The sole reason to pay for an expensive college education is not for the education value, but for the piece of paper that opens doors into the job market. The truth is, today with the Internet, a superior education can be had for free, yet with no diploma. One day, this piece of paper will lose its value and prestige. Until then, we are stuck with an excessively overpriced and largely archaic system of education.

When considering the value of college education, realize its value is in the opening of certain job prospects, but not in its education. If your interest is in learning, don’t go to college; learn on your own. If the professional field you want to go into requires that pricey degree, consider well if it is worth it, or if there isn’t some other way to bypass the degree process. Most college degrees serve little more purpose than demonstrating functional literacy for prospective employers. In that cases, self-learning will actually demonstrate far more competency and be cheaper and more useful. Education is certainly valuable. College is just not the best place to get it; at least in the required programs for degrees. That is the lesson that Jobs learned.

Doing What You Love

The other lesson that Jobs gleaned from his life’s experiences, was that his greatest productivity and value to society was obtained when he did what he loved most. Auditing courses he liked at college instead of the required ones is one example. Another is when he was fired from Apple computer shortly after the introduction of the Macintosh. While that experience was painful for him, it freed him from the pressures of running that vast enterprise to reconnect with his creative side as well as his personal life. He started NeXT computer which later became the new operating system for Macintosh computers. He also started Pixar, which became most successful animation studio in the world. Lastly, during that time of transition, he married and began a family. A few years later, he was asked to come back to Apple to save it, and turned it from a small computer company into the largest company in the world.

Reflecting back on his life, he found that the courses he took at college of his own choosing were the ones invaluable to his success. I have found the same to be true in my own life. I found very little value in the required material in both grade school and college, yet the education I have sought on my own to immensely valuable. The things I have sought for myself to learn were the things I was passionate about, not what someone else was.


We are blessed to live in a time in which we have such freedom of choices in our life. We do not have to become a blacksmith because our father was a blacksmith. Not only do we have a broad array of choices, but so does everyone else. The jobs of the future will not be those created and defined by others as they have been in the past. The will be the ones we create for ourselves that uniquely meet the needs of others who think similarly. This was definitely the case for Jobs. He founded his own company and created new and unique products that had never existed before. These products were the offspring of his own passions, with which millions of people also found to be useful in pursuing theirs.

Therein lies the future. Discover your unique gifts. Learn the things you want to learn. Follow your passions and create products and services that meet the unique needs of others. That is the path to success.

Please share your experiences in the comments.

Following Your Passions by Provide Your Own is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 18, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

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