A Life Well Lived

 “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful–that’s what matters.” Steve Jobs CNN, May 25, 1993

I would venture to guess that a large percentage of the US population feels some connection to Steve Jobs, and thus is saddened by his passing. I remember the thrill of getting an Apple MacIntosh computer during my last year of college at Stanford. It looked a bit like the much-ridiculed car, the Pacer, just without wheels. But is was so fun to play with, especially since I had grimly slogged through programming course in a dungeon-like computer lab few months before. Fast forward….my 4 year old just down-loaded PBS Kids on the sleek little iPad, and delights in making it work.

In looking back on Jobs’ accomplishments, I get the sense that he really cared about the user of his products and their experience in using them, from computers to music to phones to movies. His products enhanced communication in a beautiful way, and he was gifted in his ability to communicate their value with his audience.

His tributes are beautiful and touching, and come from the Oval Office and Fortune 500 board rooms. But they also come from a lot of regular people who feel that Steve Jobs and Apple impacted their lives in a positive way. He received honors and accolades during his life, yet I’m sure he would have been touched by the ways he’s being remembered.

Funerals and prayer services make me sad for obvious reasons, but also because I wonder if those who’ve died ever received these tributes of their impact while they lived. Perhaps if they’d been aware of
their own special qualities and deeds, they’d have made even more impact.

Maybe it’s time to honor these friends, family or even brief acquaintances by acknowledging their contributions to making life better, in big ways and small. Consider the following:

  1. Take a little time to reflect on the that person to whom you are sending a birthday or holiday greeting, and tell them about your favorite memory of them or an admirable quality that they have. Use a stamp, and mail it. They will probably save that card forever.
  2. Send an unexpected thank you note to a friend or colleague who helped you out. Make it a weekly habit.
  3. Remember and honor great customer service when when someone makes an extra effort at a store, restaurant, or other business. Fill out the comment card, or send a note to the manager.
  4. Use Facebook or a group email to sing someone’s praises.
  5. Ask for advice from someone you admire. People are often flattered and very willing to share their insights. You honor them by your desire to learn.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to make a tribute to someone who is an important part of your life. And while you are at it, think about your own obituary. How do you want to be remembered?

11 Responses

  1. I like this article! I agree; I felt connected to Steve Jobs and was sad with his passing and I love how you turned this into such a beautiful lesson. I will take on the idea to celebrate and honor the people who make a difference in my life so they get how much they matter to me.

  2. I have been drawn to this lately and thought I would share it here:
    “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.”
    Steve Jobs, Harvard Commencement Address, June 12, 2005.

    Steve Jobs was a man that lived his passion and had amazing advise. My passion is to help others heal and be healthy. I try to live my life by following my heart and intuition. I hope that in my obituary, I am remembered for this.

  3. Oh my goodness that was a lot in one post! My grandmother has been ill and it definitely makes little day to day activities seem crisper and more vibrant. I love your suggestions about being gracious and thoughtful with those around you.
    With my grandmother, I have been emailing her questions about her childhood and telling her memories of her and i when I was little. I wish we didn’t all wait until the end of the road to do these things!

  4. Great post. Is so easy to forget to thank those around you when you are a busy bee entrepreneur. And so many of us wait until sadly is too late to tell them the positive impact they’ve had in our lives. I definitely have a few people whom are due some loving from me. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. This touches me on many levels – Steve Jobs, just say those two words and I start crying again, and yes, I got my first computer on the first day of a job on Wall Street and was giving the first few days just to figure it out. What fun! I have been a Mac fan my whole life! Also I just had a birthday so this is a great reminder to thank everyone thoughtfully and personally for their lovely gifts, thanks the reminder!

  6. I have read a number of articles and posts about Steve – tributes each and every one about his impact on individual lives as well as his legacy in the world. I love how you have taken that and brought into our everyday reality. It is so easy to say thank you mindlessly – and yet just as easy to pay tribute in small ways each day. Thanks for 5 great ideas on how to do this with ease.

  7. I love where you took this post and these are brilliant ideas! I’ve done a few of these…like leave a mentor of mine a Father’s Day card, because he meant that much to me. Also for my last wedding anniversary wrote down 100 of our greatest moments so far.
    I’m up for your challenge…I got a couple of random thank you’s in mind!

  8. Fantastic suggestions. I didn’t become an apple fan till 2 years ago. I will never go back. I agree that Steve probably cared immensely about his customer experience. Acknowledging people in your life is so powerful. A couple of years ago my mother passed away at a very early age of 55. I was more saddened by not knowing if she truly knew how much she meant to me. So I asked people at the funeral to bring a grateful list to place in her casket. The warmth in the room was amazing. Thank you for the reminder to acknowledge others, it does make a world of difference for them but especially you.

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