How Steve Jobs turned his biggest problem into his biggest opportunity

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

During his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address, Steve told us how he achieved this. He 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 unexpectedly fired him.

It was, he said,


and for a few months he felt

“a very public failure.”

But then he reflected…

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

“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. Then we can discover:

  • What are we willing to let go of, because it matters less to us?
  • What do we refuse to let go of, because it matters the most?
  • What do we love?

It’s a cauldron of fire — but it tempers the steel. And it brings us clarity, focus, and then inspiration.

Once Steve Jobs knew what he loved he gained the inspiration and motivation to turn what was then a tiny, struggling computer company into the most valuable corporation on the planet. Because that was what he most longed to do.

And because that was what he loved, it wasn’t a struggle for him, it wasn’t ‘work’. It was just him, being who he truly was, doing what he cared most about, doing what he was here to do.

When we find what we love we take another step forward towards becoming antifragile.

Have you found what you love? Are you looking?

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

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