Steve Jobs on Purpose and Values

Newspaper report of Steve Jobs's death in the Suddeutsche Zeitung

Steve Jobs was an imperfect human being like the rest of us are. But in his short life he managed to accomplish more of the goals he set himself than most of us do.

How did he achieve this?

In his famous 2005 Stanford commencement address Steve talked about his answers. He didn’t use the words ‘purpose’ and ‘values’ — instead he talked about something even more vague: ‘love’, ‘intuition’, ‘heart’, and ‘inner voice’.

He 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…

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.”

Can we all be Steve Jobs? No.
Should we try to? No.
Can we all learn from his example? Yes.

The way Inner Leadership does this is in three steps:

  1. It provides a set of tools for becoming clearer on what your inner voice, love, heart, and intuition are trying to tell you: simple tools for connecting more deeply with yourself and your intuition and for seeing more clearly what is happening around you.
  2. Then it crystallises your ‘love, heart, and intuition’ into ‘purpose’ and ‘values’ — because that makes them more concrete and easier to convert into action.
  3. Then it helps you find more ways to put those purpose and values into action, starting from wherever you are now, and to inspire yourself and other people to make them happen.

Applying this philosophy enabled Steve Jobs to accomplish so much of what mattered to him that when he died even foreign newspapers called him “Gesicht einer Ära” — “The face of an era.”

Applying the same philosophy will enable you to achieve more of whatever it is that matters to you.

Are you clear what your inner voice is saying? Are you following your heart, love, and intuition? Would it be useful to clarify your purpose and values?

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

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Photo By Wolf Gang via

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