28 August 2007

Stay Hungry.Stay Foolish.

Recently I played Steve Jobs' Commencement Speech for my class' listening test. While it was a test for them, it turned out to be a fresh reminder for myself on life's important lessons.

Steve, the founder of Apple Computers, did not graduate from University and the speech at the students' Commencement was the closest that he ever got to a graduation ceremony. Yet, this man shook and turned the computer industry upside down with Apple computers and later, with NExt and Pixar companies.

His speech carried 3 important points. Connecting the dots (you can only do it when you look backwards in your life). Love & Loss (he tells of how he was fired from Apple and then subsequently re-hired). Death (his close brush with pancreas cancer).

What struck me most, was his last point on: Stay hungry, stay foolish. For him, and most people, to succeed in life, they need to stay hungry to pursue all their options and to work hard. Satisfied people will settle and cruise in life (and probably won't achieve anything great). Hungry people will not stay still. They will work hard because they need to stay alive.

Stay foolish is a bit more difficult for me to understand. Perhaps it is to mean staying curious and wanting to continue to learn, and not fear appearing foolish.

For me as I reflected on these things, especially in the light of reading the story on the birth of EDB in Singapore, I sensed the importance of being hungry in life. A poor chap from an un-developed country is hungry for any job, while a well-provided for guy from Singapore can be choosy and takes his time to select the cosy job.

After a while in life, I tend to cruise on auto-pilot and lost my hunger to learn, my drive to work harder, and my zeal to excel. Some of it is tampered by disappointments and other crushing emotions. But here I am reminded that success can also hinder us and make us too complacent for our own good.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish. And to that, I add another. Stay humble (to learn).

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