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分类: IT职场

2011-11-30 17:02:27

  2005年乔布斯在斯坦福大学的毕业典礼上的这篇演讲非常著名,我借这篇著名的演讲,发表我的评论和意见。以下标黑体字为演讲中文翻译,我根据网络上的翻译稿做了些校译。

           

         [转载]有感于乔布斯在斯坦福的演讲
                           2005年,乔布斯在斯坦福大学毕业典礼上

    我今天很荣幸能和你们一起参加毕业典礼,斯坦福大学是世界上最好的大学之一。我从来没有从任何大学毕业过。说实话,今天也许是在我的生命中离大学毕业最近的一天了。今天我想向你们讲述我生活中的三个故事。不是什么大不了的事情, 只是三个故事而已。

    第一个是关于如何把生命中的各个点连起来的故事。

    我在瑞德大学读了六个月之后就退学了,但是在十八个月以后——我真正的作出退学决定之前,我还经常去学校。那我为什么要退学呢?
    故事得从我出生的时候讲起。我的生身母亲是一个年轻的、未婚的大学生。她决定让别人收养我,她非常想让我被一个大学毕业的家庭收养。当我出生的时候,她已经做好了一切的准备。所以我的养父母突然在半夜接到了一个电话:“我们这儿有一个意外生出来的男婴, 你们想要吗?”他们回答道: “当然!”。但是,我生身母亲后来发现,我的养母从来没有上过大学, 我的养父,甚至从没有读过高中。她拒绝签署收养合同。只是在几个月后,我的养父母答应她一定会让我上大学, 那时她才勉强同意。
    在十七岁那年, 我真的上了大学。但是我很愚蠢地选择了一个几乎和你们斯坦福大学一样贵的学校, 我父母还处于蓝领阶层,他们几乎把所有积蓄都花在了我的学费上面。六个月后,我已经看不到其中的价值所在。我不知道我真正想要什么,我也不知道大学能怎样 帮我找到答案。但是在这里,我几乎花光了我父母一辈子的全部积蓄。所以我决定要退学,我觉得这是个正确的决定。不可否认,我当时确实非常的担忧。但是现在 回头看看,那的确是我一生中最棒的一个决定。在我做出退学决定的那一刻,我终于可以不必去读那些令我提不起丝毫兴趣的课程了,于是我可以去修那些自己喜欢 的课程。
    但是这并浪漫。我没有宿舍,只能睡在朋友房间的地板上;我了填饱肚子,我去捡可以卖5美分的空可乐罐。星期天晚上,为了吃上一顿好饭,我必须走上七英里的路,穿过城市到达哈里神庙。我喜欢那里的饭菜,这是每个星期唯一的一顿美餐。
    我磕磕撞撞往前走,全凭自己的直觉和好奇心,后来却发现这是无价之宝。让我给你们举一个例子吧。
    那时,瑞德大学提供也许是全美最好的美术字课程。这所大学里的每张海报, 每个抽屉的标签上面全都是漂亮的美术字。因为我退学了, 不必去上正规的课, 所以我决定去选修这个课程,去学学怎样写出漂亮的美术字。我学到了花体和圣花体字体的区别, 我学会了怎样在不同的字母组合之中调整间距, 还学会了设计出出最棒的印刷式样。那种美妙感、历史感和艺术感,是任何科学语言无法表达的, 我发现那实在是太有意思了。
    当时看起来,这些东西在我生活中并没有什么实际的用处。但是,十年以后,当我们设计第一台苹果电脑的时候,情况就不一样了。我把当时所学全都应用进了苹果电脑。那是第一台使用漂亮美术字体的电脑。如果我当时没有退学, 就不会有机会去参加这个我感兴趣的美术字课程, 苹果电脑就不会有这么多丰富的字体,以及赏心悦目的字体间距。由于微软只是照搬苹果,本来个人电脑也不应该有这些东西。如果我没有退学,也就不会去上那个美术字体课,因此个人电脑也许就不会有今天这么多美妙的字体。
    当然我在大学的时候,还不可能将这每一个点连起来。但是,当我十年后往回看的时候,一切都非常清晰了。
    再说了,你不可能往前连接这些点,只能回头往后连。所以,你一定要相信,这些小点也许会在你生命里的某一个时候连接起来。你总得相信点什么:你的勇气、宿命、生命、因缘......不管什么。遵照这个逻辑,它从没有让我失望过,只是让我的生命与众不同。

    乔布斯讲的这个故事实际上是说:是金子,哪儿都能发光。不怨天,不怨地,关键在于我们自己。我们有时候总是抱怨自己的命运不好,出身不好,时代不好,或者 公司不好,行业不好,领导不好。实际上你生活中的每一件事情都说不准是未来某件事的因缘。当我们看上去碰到挫折的时候,可能是下一个崛起的力量。
    我出身在农村,我小时候在农村碰到的许多困苦给了我身体和心灵足够的历练,后来在生活中碰到许多困难和挫折,这些生活中的困难就变得容易打发。一个在农村 泥土里打滚拼搏出来的孩子,在未来的事业、工作中还是能够比较抗压和忍耐的,追求成功的欲望也比较强烈。我们也看到现在许多成功的企业家、政治家、艺术 家,小时候都是比较不容易,如果没有被困难压垮,就让我们变得更加强大。过去的困苦,成就了我们的进取和坚强。要是我生活在条件优越的家庭和环境里,我怀 疑自己能有足够的闯劲和韧劲,连续10多年艰苦地创业。
    我毕业分配的时候,因为户口问题进不了外企宝洁,只能进了一个国企——长江计算机集团。在国企几年,让我真正地了解了社会和人性;也因为自己不适应国企的 环境,逼迫自己下海创业,才能有了后来的携程网、汉庭等等。如果进了宝洁,可能中国多了一个职业经理人,但少了一个创业者、企业家。
    我是85年进大学,那一年我们学校有很多优秀的同学保送进大学,有些去了南京大学,有些去了南京工学院(现在的东南大学)。因为平常我比较调皮捣蛋,老师 觉得我不是那么优秀,保送的名额没有轮上我,后来不得已参加了高考,报考了上海交通大学。在大学的时候,隔壁班有个同学叫万辉。正是因为他的介绍,我认识 了回国寻找机会的梁建章,和在德意志银行干活的沈南鹏,后来我们三个(加上范敏)都参与创办了携程网。如果我被保送进了南京大学,可能不会有携程网这个故 事了。
    但是,不管眼前的道路如何,有时候生活让我们没得选择,只要我们心里有信念和理想,生命中的每一件事情、每一个人都有可能成为我们生命中重要的一个点,这 些点连起来,就是我们每个人独特的人生。平庸还是伟大,富贵还是贫贱,成功或者失败,幸运或者倒霉……都是这些小点连起来的轨迹而已。

    第二个是关于爱和塞翁失马的故事。

    我很幸运, 在我很早的时候就找到了自己钟爱的东西。伍兹和我在二十岁的时候就在我父母的车库里面开创了苹果公司。我们努力工作,十年之后, 这个由两个穷小子在车库里创立的公司,已经发展到了四千多名的员工、价值超过二十亿的大公司。在公司成立后的第九年, 我们刚刚发布了最好的产品麦金塔。当时我也快要三十岁了。在那一年, 我被炒了鱿鱼。你怎么可能被你自己创立的公司炒鱿鱼呢? 嗯, 在苹果快速成长的时候,我们雇用了一个很有天分的家伙和我一起管理这个公司, 在最初的一两年, 我们合作得还不错。但是后来,我们对未来的看法发生了分歧, 最终我们争吵起来。当我们争吵到不可开交的时候, 董事会站在了他的一边。所以在三十岁的时候, 我出局了,而且是非常高调地出局了。在而立之年,我生命的全部支柱离自己远去, 这真是灾难性地打击啊!
    在最初的几个月里,我真不知道该做什么。我觉得我让老一辈企业家们失望了,我把他们交给我的接力棒搞丢了。我和惠普的创始人帕克、英特尔的创始人鲍伯碰 头,并试图向他们道歉。我把事情弄得糟糕透了。由于我的离职事件很高调,我甚至想过离开硅谷,离开这一切。但是,我渐渐发现了曙光:我仍然热爱我从事的那 些东西。在苹果公司发生的这一切,丝毫没有改变这个事实, 一点都没有。虽然我被赶走了,但是我仍然钟爱我所做的事情。所以我决定从头来过。
    虽然我当时并没有感觉到, 但是后来事实证明:被苹果公司炒鱿鱼是我这辈子里最棒的事情了。终日为功名所累,还不如作为一个开创者来得轻松。再没有比这更确定的事情了。这让我感觉如释重负, 进入了我生命中最有创造力的一个阶段。
    在接下来的五年里,我创立了一个名叫NeXT的公司, 还有一个叫Pixar的公司, 然后和一个后来成为我妻子的优雅女人相识。Pixar制作了世界上第一个用电脑制作的动画电影——“玩具总动员”,Pixar现在也是世界上最成功的电脑 制作工作室。在后来的一系列眼花缭乱的运作中,苹果又收购了NeXT,然后我就又回到了苹果公司。我们在NeXT发展的技术,在苹果今天的复兴之中发挥了 关键的作用。而且,我还和劳伦一起建立了一个幸福完美的家庭。
    可以非常肯定的是:如果我没有被苹果开除的话,这些事情中的任何一件也不会发生的。良药苦口,但是我想病人需要这剂药。有些时候, 生活会向你的头上拍板砖。不要失去信仰。我很清楚,支撑我一路走下去的,就是那些我爱的东西。你需要去寻找到你的所爱,对于工作是如此,对于你的爱人也是 如此。你的工作将会占据生活中很大的一部分。你要相信这份工作是伟大的,你必须先热爱它;你只有坚信自己所做的是件伟大的工作,你才能怡然自得。如果你现 在还没有找到,那么继续寻找,不要停下。只要全心全意的去找,在你找到的时候,你的心会告诉你的。就像任何人类中伟大的关系一样,随着岁月的流逝只会变得 越来越好。所以继续寻找,不要停下,直到你找到它!
    我们很多人都碰到过类似的事情,虽然情节不一定像乔布斯这样富于戏剧性。有时候生活会给你来些起伏,在低谷的时候,我们往往会对生活失去信心,无所适从。 中国古代早有故事:塞翁失马,焉知非福。挫折对于强者只会是养料,甚至是反弹的后冲力。乔布斯没有经历这次“被辞退”,可能不会有今天的成就,他的人格也 不会这么圆润。
    有时候成就一个人,需要一次挫折。
    一个人类亘古以来一直在探讨的问题:我们如何度过我们的一生。现在许多人不想,还有许多人被一些东西(权、钱、名、利等)所痴迷,看不清楚。乔布斯的回答 就是:找到你的所爱,将你生命中所有的时间花在你的所爱上面。不要为别人活着,为自己活一次。在他生命中的最后时光也是秉承这个原则,他将他的最后时光留 给了家人,只见了少数几个外面的人,这些人包括:内科医师主任和健康预防倡导者奥尼什、风险资本家约翰•杜尔、苹果董事会成员比尔•坎贝尔、迪士尼董事长 罗伯特•伊格尔、刚刚发布iPhone4S的苹果高管们以及传记作家沃尔特•艾萨克森。见传记作者也只是为了让他的孩子们了解自己。
    对于平常生活中的人们,世界上最幸运的事情就是能够将工作和自己的所爱结合在一起。巴菲特说,他每天早上都是拎着公文包,哼着小曲,踏着舞步去上班的。这 样的境界就是热爱工作的境界。不一定每个人都能够象巴菲特这么幸运。你要么爱上自己的工作,要么换一个你爱的工作。哪怕只是为了谋生,也要找一个自己喜欢 的行业和公司。
    你可以有无数种可能度过自己的一生。小孩子从小就为了上名校折腾,毕业以后希望找到高薪的工作,工作以后就是追求豪宅、名车;有了孩子以后再开始新一轮追逐。如果这是你的所爱,也未尝不可。我们是否还能找到一些更加深远、更加永恒、更加精神一些的生命价值呢?
    不过,没关系,直接的、物质的所爱也可以。只是我们要找到,并且是我们内心真正需要、真正所爱的东西。为之奋斗一生,值得,不后悔。

    我的第三个故事是关于死亡。

    当我十七岁的时候, 我读到了一句话:“如果你把每一天都当作生命中最后一天去过的话,那么有一天你会发现是正确的。”这句话给我留下了一点印象。33年过去了,我每天早晨都会对着镜子问自己:“如果今天是我生命中的最后一天, 今天去做的事情是你想去做的吗?”如果几天下来回答都是“不”的时候,我知道自己需要做些改变了。
    “记住你即将死去”是我一生中最重要的格言。它告诉我生活中最重要的是什么帮。因为几乎所有外在的东西, 包括傲慢、对于难堪和失败的担心,在死亡面前统统都会消失,真正重要的东西会留下来。时刻牢记“你行将死去”,可以帮助你避免患得患失的想法,你本来就是赤身裸体而来,也行将赤身裸体而去,有什么理由不去跟随你内心的召唤呢。
    大概一年以前, 我被诊断出癌症。我在早晨七点半做了一个检查, 报告清楚地显示在我的胰腺有一个肿瘤。我当时都不知道胰腺是什么东西。医生告诉我那很可能是一种无法治愈的癌症, 也许我还可以活三到六个月。医生建议我回家, 整理好自己的一切。那是医生处理临终病人的标准程序。那意味着你将要把未来十年对你小孩说的话在几个月里面说完;那意味着安排好后事, 让你的家人可以尽可能轻松地生活;那也意味着你要说“永别了”。
    我拿着那个诊断书呆了一整天。那天晚上我作了一个活切片检查,医生将一个内窥镜从我的喉咙伸进去,通过我的胃, 然后进入我的肠子, 用一根针在我胰腺的肿瘤上取了几个细胞。我当时是被麻醉的,但我的妻子在那里。她后来告诉我:当医生在显微镜下观察这些细胞的时候,他们尖叫起来, 因为这些细胞竟然是一种非常罕见的可以用手术治愈的胰腺癌症细胞。我做了这个手术,现在我痊愈了。
    那是我最接近死亡的时候, 这种“亲密接触”在以后的几十年里最好也不要再发生。去鬼门关走了一回,比起过去对于死亡只是一个理性概念上的理解更加真切和肯定了:没有人愿意死, 即使人们想上天堂, 也不会为了去那里而死。但是死亡是我们每个人必然的终点。没有人可以逃脱。也应该如此,因为死亡是生命中最好的发明,是生命中必由之路。它清除旧的东西以便给新的让路。虽然你们现在是新的, 但是不久的将来, 你们也会逐渐的变成旧的,然后被清理掉。很抱歉这让人沮丧, 但却是不争的事实。
    你们的时间很有限, 所以不要浪费时间去过其他人的生活。不要被教条束缚,因为那是其他人对于生活的思考。不要被其他人嘈杂的观点掩盖了你自己内心的声音。还有最重要的是, 你要有勇气去听从你直觉和内心的指引。在某种程度上,它们知道你想要成为什么样子,其它的事情都不重要。
    当我年轻的时候,有一本叫做《地球全目录》的出版物,它是我们那一代人的圣经之一。这是一个叫斯图尔特的家伙,在离这里不远的门罗公园编辑的,以他极富诗意的才华将这本书带给我们。那是六十年代后期, 在个人电脑出现之前, 所以这本书全部是用打字机,、剪刀还有宝丽来相机制作的。虽然是在谷歌出现之前35年做的,却有点像用纸张制作的谷歌:那是理想主义的年代,书中充斥着许多灵巧的工具和伟大的想法。
斯图尔特和他的伙伴出版了几期《地球全目录》,当它完成了自己历史使命的时候,他们出了最后一期。那是七十年代的中期, 我正是你们的年纪。在这一期的封底上,是一张清晨乡村公路的照片,如果你有点探索精神的话,甚至你还可以自己找到这条路。照片下面有这样一段话:“锐意精进,虚怀若谷 (stay hungry, stay foolish)”。这是他们停刊的告别语。锐意精进,虚怀若谷。这是我一直用于自勉的一句话,今天,在你们即将毕业,开始新旅程的时候,与你们共勉。
    锐意精进,虚怀若谷。
    谢谢大家!

  [转载]有感于乔布斯在斯坦福的演讲
                        那天,乔布斯分享的三个故事,会改变很多人的一生?

 

    我在两年前写过一篇《人生的两个视点》,其中一个视点,就是假设“明天我们即将离开这个世界”。这让我们知道生命中什么是最重要的,不要为了别人、为了身外的东西,浪费生命,浪费人生。
    我在大学的时候学习英语,有一句话我看了一眼,就至今难忘: “Listen to the sound of your heart”。我们不知道未来是什么,也不知道哪条路可以通向成功,也不知道前方会遇到什么。与其扔骰子,还不如听从你内心的声音,一路向前。失败了,不会后悔,因为你的内心要去到那里。成功了,你内心的声音会更加坚定和清晰,你的人生也会更加绚丽和精彩。
    乔布斯的这篇演讲是05年,他04年查出有胰腺癌,做了手术,可能以为可以治疗好。但是想不到7年后,他还是走了。这7年,乔布斯给世人带来了太多的精彩 东西(上一篇文章已经介绍过了),苹果的股票从17块到400块(实际上苹果的股票飞涨正是那个时候开始的)。乔布斯好像在和生命赛跑一样,不停地创新, 不停地出新产品,不停地带给大家惊喜。在诊断出癌症后,乔布斯也可以退出日常工作,安心养病,慢慢调理。说不定这样子他的病情不会反复,至少不会恶化,还 能有10年、20年的时光,可以陪他的孩子们一起成长。但是乔布斯没有选择这样的道路,而是仍然全身心地投入到自己所爱的事业里去。他比以往任何时候都知 道生命的可贵,更加拼命和努力。就是一个平常人也不一定吃得消,更何况一个患有癌症的人呢!我们今天能够用到这么好的苹果产品,都是乔布斯的心血和生命铸 成的啊!
    李商隐说:蜡炬成灰泪始干。乔布斯还是走了,蜡烛烧完了,留下了一片光明和精彩。照他的理论:老的为新的让路。但是他却是我们当今社会最珍贵的“老的”啊。难道宇宙的规律就是这样的无情和不加甄别吗?
生命对于每一个人都是一样的,不多也不少,不偏也不倚。
    一个人不管多么能干,不管多么成功,不管如何聪明,甚至不管如何伟大,如何位高权重,都难以回避死亡,这是每一个人:伟大或者平凡,富有或者贫穷,高贵或者低贱……最后的同一归属。这归属不管是天堂还是地狱,不管是美好还是不美好,就是那么一个归属。这是人类的宿命。
    想想死亡,人类是一脸的无奈和虚无。我们活着的人们还是要“stay hungry, stay foolish”啊。

 

    关于“stay hungry, stay foolish”的翻译
    许多人有不同的译法,比如“求知若饥,虚心若愚”,崔广福“求胜若饥、执着若愚”等等。这句话的翻译确实非常难,很难达意。中英文在表达的时候有各自的沿革和语境,要想100%复原原文的意思有时候是不可能的。
    “锐意”比较好地将饥饿感的那种进取表达了出来,“精进”是勤奋向上的意思,两个词合起来和英文愿意比较接近;“虚怀若谷”比“大智若愚”要更加贴切,和前句“锐意精进”也比较对仗。这个翻译自己觉得比较符合原意,并注重了中文的工整和对仗。 

 

附:乔布斯演讲英文稿:
    I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
    The first story is about connecting the dots.
    I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
    It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
    And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
     It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
     Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
    None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.   

    Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
    Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
    My second story is about love and loss.
    I was lucky - I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
    I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me - I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
    I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
    During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
    I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. 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. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
    My third story is about death.
    When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, 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.
    Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
    About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
    I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
    This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept: No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
    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.
    When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
    Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
    Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
    Thank you all very much.

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