How Steve Jobs turned his biggest problem into his biggest opportunity

Steve Jobs was an imperfect human being like the rest of us. But in his short life he managed to achieve more of the things that mattered to him than most of us do.

How did he do this?

In his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address Steve talked about how the biggest challenge of his life also turned out to be his biggest opportunity.

When he was 30 years old, the company he had co-founded and worked in all his adult life fired him.

It was, he said,


and for a few months he felt he was

“a very public failure.”

But then he reflected…

Getting fired from Apple, he said, didn’t only turn out to be a good thing:

“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me… It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life… It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”



“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love… If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

When we face our biggest challenge it forces us to make choices and discover:

  • What are we willing to let go, because it’s not that important to us?
  • What are we willing to work and fight for?
  • What do we love?

And in Steve Jobs’s case, once he knew what he really wanted to do, what he loved, then he gained the motivation and inspiration he needed to turn a tiny, struggling computer company into the most valuable corporation on the planet.

And because it was what he loved, then doing this wasn’t a struggle. It was just him, doing what he loved, being who he was, doing what he was here to do.

When we start to do the same then we take another step towards becoming antifragile.

Have you found what you love? Are you still looking?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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