Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish!

Stay hungry! Stay foolish!

Stay hungry! Stay foolish!

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the meaning and significance of four words that inspired a man who would become a visionary, pioneer and creative genius: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

First a quick update:

“Cheaters, Deconstructed – An Expert Divulges Why Men Stray”
Why do men cheat? Is there simply one answer or many? Are there common threads in a man’s biology and psychology that can be used to understand his betrayal? Read the insights and quotes I gave to MSN and about the various factors and motivations of the cheating man.

Now, let’s talk about the lesson to “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

Steve Jobs was a controversial man – an American inventor and entrepreneur, a technology industry icon who co-founded Apple Inc. and whose company is responsible for the Macintosh computer, the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Apple’s technologies and Steve Jobs’ contributions have resulted in a heightened ability to share ideas, music, art and creativity.

Steve Jobs was also controversial because Apple was criticized for using cheap Chinese labor over American labor and for aggressively attempting to patent simple things that probably shouldn’t and which would potentially negatively impact creativity and innovation by the same company that defended creativity and innovation. For example, Apple filed a motion to stop Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tablet and some smartphones based on patents that the iPad-maker holds. Samsung responded by claiming that Apple got the idea and design for a tablet computer (the iPad) from the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film (and Arthur C. Clarke’s book) 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the astronauts eat while watching a TV show on flat, personal computers. “…he would plug in his foolscap-size newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers… Switching to the display unit’s short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.” – Arthur C. Clarke – “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Controversies aside, Steve Jobs was a successful businessman, visionary and entrepreneur. Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple at age 20 and within 10 years, Apple had grown from two people in a garage into a two billion dollar company with over 4,000 employees.

But Steve Jobs’ story is much more inspiring than simply his financial success. And there are some key lessons from his life.

Jobs was born to a young unwed graduate student who decided to give him away for adoption with the proviso that the adopting parents would ensure he would go to college when he grows up.

Despite his biological mother’s initial protests, Steve Jobs was given away to a working class couple (the mother had never graduated from college and the father had never graduated from high school.) But Steve Jobs went to college and within the first six months, Jobs awoke to realize that he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life or how college would help. He also felt guilty that his parents’ hard-earned money was being wasted.

Jobs decided to follow his “curiosity and intuition”: he dropped out, but he dropped in on a few classes that struck his interest. One of those classes was calligraphy and Jobs knew there was no practical application at the time but ten years later when he designed the first Macintosh computer, Jobs recalled those classes and saw the connection as he added beautiful typography and multiple typefaces to the Mac computer.

“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.”

Steve Jobs had to say no to what he didn’t want so that he could say yes to what he did want. Jobs had found what he loved at a very young age.

But at age 30, due to clashing visions, Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Apple, by the Board of Directors. At first, Jobs felt like a failure but then had his second awakening: although he had been rejected, Jobs was still in love with what he did.

“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.”

Jobs formed a company named NeXT and then started Pixar, now the most successful animation studio in the world. Apple eventually bought NeXT and Jobs was back with Apple.

“Sometimes life’s going to hit 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.”

But finding what you love is only one part of the formula because it is easy to lose your way, lose heart or allow fear to take over.

“…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 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.”

But there was one other mantra to which Steve Jobs adhered; four simple words that he would see on the back of “The Whole Earth Catalog” when he was just nineteen:

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

But what do those words truly mean?

Hunger is what drives a man to hunt.

Hunger is a motivator; it makes us ravenous.

Hunger is the passion that drives us to chase what we desire.

When we think of someone that is fully fed, we think of someone sitting back, content, relaxed, laid back and ready to sleep. But a hungry man has drive and desperation for food. What is your food? For what are you hungry? What is that drives and pushes and motivates you?

Doing what you love!

Foolishness is something we often attribute to youth. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15.)

The dictionary defines foolish as:

1.         Unwise; silly
2.         Resulting from folly or stupidity
3.         Ridiculous or absurd; not worthy of consideration
4.         Weak-minded; simple

So what benefit can there be by staying foolish?

Foolishness can also be subjective, a victim of the fear of the majority.

When Steve Jobs told his parents he was dropping out of college, like most parents, they would have considered it an act of folly, truly unwise. When he and Steve Wozniak decided to start a computer company in a garage, many people would have considered it foolish, ridiculous or absurd, particularly in 1975 when college and 9-5 jobs were the norm. And in 1986, when he decided to invest ten million dollars to start Pixar animation, many must have thought Jobs weak-minded – the company almost went bust in 1990, and the hit feature “Toy Story” wouldn’t come out for another 5 years!

Staying foolish implies taking risks, ignoring the good opinion of other people and sticking to your vision in spite of the criticism or mockery.

“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.”

Stay hungry! Stay foolish!

(The quotes above by Steve Jobs are taken from the 114th Commencement Address to graduating students of Stanford University on June 12, 2005.) Click here to read more.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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