With the recent death of Steve Jobs, I decided to learn more about his life and his many contributions to the world of personal computers. During my searches, I found a very inspiring speech he gave in a graduation ceremony at Stanford University.
In this speech to thousands of students that had just finished College, Steve Jobs said:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
I think this is a very important message for software developers, for two reasons:
The first reason is that programmers normally work long and exhaustive hours. The software development process can be very demanding and stressing. The only possibility of tolerating this heavy work load is to really enjoy what you do. I discuss the problem of the programmers’ hard work on a previous blog post: “How Decision Fatigue Affects the Efficacy of Programmers”
Besides that, I believe that programmers are fully productive only when they work with enthusiasm. Several studies have shown that there is a big difference in the quantity and quality of code produced by different developers, and in my opinion the main cause for this difference is that some programmers work with greater passion. I talk about that in a previous post: “Nothing is More Effective than Enthusiasm”
In another part of his speech, Jobs said:
“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.”
I think that this need to change is essential for software developers. Of course any human being needs to feel that he is evolving and making some kind of progress. But I believe that programmers in particular need to invest a lot in self-improvement, probably more than most other professions. I discuss this issue in my blog post: “The Effective Workplace”
Finally, Jobs makes these important conclusive remarks:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
The death of Steve Jobs was certainly a great loss for the world. By studying his biography we learn that he was an example of vision, perseverance, creativity and innovation. I feel sad about his death, and greatly inspired by his work.