Quoting Stewart Brand, editor of the Whole Earth catalog, Steve Jobs told the 2005 Stanford graduating class to "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." The words described how Jobs lived his life. He didn't live to fit into the system. He lived to create what he thought was possible.
How can you live by these wise words especially in times of economic problems and dark omens of the future?
For me, the most significant word is not hungry or foolish, but "stay."
No one accomplishes great things without a passion for their work and strong beliefs that what they are doing is right and good for many.
Last week, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that it "has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
These women know the meaning of "stay" in dark times.
Even with passion and conviction, there has to be endurance. I recently heard education expert Sir Ken Robinson say, "We live in a veil of beliefs and values." If your life's work is about lifting the veil so others can have equal rights and opportunities to live up to their potential, then you need to know how to persist even when your efforts feels futile.
The Dalai Lama said, "To be born at all is a miracle. What will you do with your life?"
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
If money weren't an issue, what change would you like to make? What movement would you like to create or add your voice to? What were you once passionate about but gave up hope?
Is there any reason that you would like to say, "Oh yeah, I'll show you!" Great things have come out of the desire to prove others are wrong about us and our ideas.
Could it be that you haven't stepped out or you gave up because what you tried didn't seem to work?
Maybe it's time to try again. Start small. Prove what you know is right with little experiments so you have inspiring data instead of just an idea.
Find people to work with that support your point of view. Stay away from people who tell you to play it safe.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman, and the late Steve Jobs all started with few resources but they had the tenacity to take small steps that led to big changes in the world. My hope is that their work inspires many more women to take steps toward making the world a better place for all.
We must stay hungry and foolish to create a world where everyone can live up to their greatest potential. Will you join me in realizing this vision?