乔布斯在 2015 年斯坦福毕业典礼上的演讲，传递出他对待「死亡」的态度。他认为死亡是生命最好的一项发明。它推动生命的更替，也催人思考，在有限的时间里为什么而活、怎么活这些重要的问题。乔布斯每日清晨的习惯是叩问自己，“如果今天是我生命里的最后一天，我是否依然会去做我计划今天要做的事情？”当心里连续出现几次“不”的时候，他就知道自己应该要改变些什么了。
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 sans 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 10 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 backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. 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 4,000 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 world’s 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 1960s, 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.
第一个故事讲的是点与点之间的关系。我在里德学院（Reed College）只读了六个月就退学了，此后便在学校里旁听，又过了大约一年半，我彻底离开。那么，我为什么退学呢？这得从我出生前讲起。我的生母是一名年轻的未婚在校研究生，她决定将我送给别人收养。她非常希望收养我的是有大学学历的人，所以把一切都安排好了，我一出生就交给一对律师夫妇收养。没想到我落地的霎那间，那对夫妇却决定收养一名女孩。就这样，我的养父母─当时他们还在登记册上排队等著呢─半夜三更接到一个电话: “我们这儿有一个没人要的男婴，你们要么？”“当然要”他们回答。但是，我的生母后来发现我的养母不是大学毕业生，我的养父甚至连中学都没有毕业，所以她拒绝在最后的收养文件上签字。不过，没过几个月她就心软了，因为我的养父母许诺日后一定送我上大学。
17 年后，我真的进了大学。当时我很天真，选了一所学费几乎和斯坦福大学一样昂贵的学校，当工人的养父母倾其所有的积蓄为我支付了大学学费。读了六个月后，我却看不出上学有什么意义。我既不知道自己这一生想干什么，也不知道大学是否能够帮我弄明白自己想干什么。这时，我就要花光父母一辈子节省下来的钱了。所以，我决定退学，并且坚信日后会证明我这样做是对的。当年做出这个决定时心里直打鼓，但现在回想起来，这还真是我有生以来做出的最好的决定之一。从退学那一刻起，我就可以不再选那些我毫无兴趣的必修课，开始旁听一些看上去有意思的课。 那些日子一点儿都不浪漫。我没有宿舍，只能睡在朋友房间的地板上。我去退还可乐瓶，用那五分钱的押金来买吃的。每个星期天晚上我都要走七英里，到城那头的黑尔－科里施纳礼拜堂去，吃每周才能享用一次的美餐。我喜欢这样。我凭著好奇心和直觉所干的这些事情，有许多后来都证明是无价之宝。
当时我并不指望书法在以后的生活中能有什么实用价值。但是，十年之后，我们在设计第一台 Macintosh 计算机时，它一下子浮现在我眼前。于是，我们把这些东西全都设计进了计算机中。这是第一台有这么漂亮的文字版式的计算机。要不是我当初在大学里偶然选了这么一门课，Macintosh 计算机绝不会有那么多种印刷字体或间距安排合理的字号。要不是 Windows 照搬了 Macintosh，个人电脑可能不会有这些字体和字号。要不是退了学，我决不会碰巧选了这门书法课，个人电脑也可能不会有现在这些漂亮的版式了。当然，我在大学里不可能从这一点上看到它与将来的关系。十年之后再回头看，两者之间的关系就非常、非常清楚了。
我的第二个故事是关于好恶与得失。幸运的是，我在很小的时候就发现自己喜欢做什么。我在 20 岁时和沃兹（Woz，苹果公司创始人之一 Wozon 的昵称─译注）在我父母的车库里办起了苹果公司。我们干得很卖力，十年后，苹果公司就从车库里我们两个人发展成为一个拥有 20 亿元资产、4,000 名员工的大企业。那时，我们刚刚推出了我们最好的产品─ Macintosh 电脑─那是在第 9 年，我刚满 30 岁。可后来，我被解雇了。你怎么会被自己办的公司解雇呢？是这样，随著苹果公司越做越大，我们聘了一位我认为非常有才华的人与我一道管理公司。在开始的一年多里，一切都很顺利。可是，随后我俩对公司前景的看法开始出现分歧，最后我俩反目了。这时，董事会站在了他那一边，所以在 30 岁那年，我离开了公司，而且这件事闹得满城风雨。我成年后的整个生活重心都没有了，这使我心力交瘁。一连几个月，我真的不知道应该怎么办。我感到自己给老一代的创业者丢了脸─因为我扔掉了交到自己手里的接力棒。我去见了戴维•帕卡德（David Packard，惠普公司创始人之一─译注）和鲍勃•诺伊斯（Bob Noyce，英特尔公司创建者之一─译注），想为把事情搞得这么糟糕说声道歉。这次失败弄得沸沸扬扬的，我甚至想过逃离硅谷。但是，渐渐地，我开始有了一个想法─我仍然热爱我过去做的一切。在苹果公司发生的这些风波丝毫没有改变这一点。我虽然被拒之门外，但我仍然深爱我的事业。于是，我决定从头开始。
虽然当时我并没有意识到，但事实证明，被苹果公司炒鱿鱼是我一生中碰到的最好的事情。尽管前景未卜，但从头开始的轻松感取代了保持成功的沉重感。这使我进入了一生中最富有创造力的时期之一。 在此后的五年里，我开了一家名叫 NeXT 的公司和一家叫皮克斯的公司，我还爱上一位了不起的女人，后来娶了她。皮克斯公司推出了世界上第一部用电脑制作的动画片《玩具总动员》（Toy Story），它现在是全球最成功的动画制作室。世道轮回，苹果公司买下 NeXT 后，我又回到了苹果公司，我们在 NeXT 公司开发的技术成了苹果公司这次重新崛起的核心。我和劳伦娜（Laurene）也建立了美满的家庭。
我的第三个故事与死亡有关。17 岁那年，我读到过这样一段话，大意是:“如果把每一天都当作生命的最后一天，总有一天你会如愿以偿。”我记住了这句话，从那时起，33 年过去了，我每天早晨都对著镜子自问: “假如今天是生命的最后一天，我还会去做今天要做的事吗？”如果一连许多天我的回答都是“不”，我知道自己应该有所改变了。
大约一年前，我被诊断患了癌症。那天早上七点半，我做了一次扫描检查，结果清楚地表明我的胰腺上长了一个瘤子，可那时我连胰腺是什么还不知道呢！医生告诉我说，几乎可以确诊这是一种无法治愈的恶性肿瘤，我最多还能活 3 到 6 个月。医生建议我回去把一切都安排好，其实这是在暗示“准备后事”。也就是说，把今后十年要跟孩子们说的事情在这几个月内嘱咐完；也就是说，把一切都安排妥当，尽可能不给家人留麻烦；也就是说，去跟大家诀别。那一整天里，我的脑子一直没离开这个诊断。到了晚上，我做了一次组织切片检查，他们把一个内窥镜通过喉咙穿过我的胃进入肠子，用针头在胰腺的瘤子上取了一些细胞组织。当时我用了麻醉剂，陪在一旁的妻子后来告诉我，医生在显微镜里看了细胞之后叫了起来，原来这是一种少见的可以通过外科手术治愈的恶性肿瘤。我做了手术，现在好了。这是我和死神离得最近的一次，我希望也是今后几十年里最近的一次。有了这次经历之后，现在我可以更加实在地和你们谈论死亡，而不是纯粹纸上谈兵，那就是: 谁都不愿意死。就是那些想进天堂的人也不愿意死后再进。然而，死亡是我们共同的归宿，没人能摆脱。我们注定会死，因为死亡很可能是生命最好的一项发明。它推进生命的变迁，旧的不去，新的不来。现在，你们就是新的，但在不久的将来，你们也会逐渐成为旧的，也会被淘汰。对不起，话说得太过分了，不过这是千真万确的。
我年轻时有一本非常好的刊物，叫《全球概览》（The Whole Earth Catalog），这是我那代人的宝书之一，创办人名叫斯图尔特•布兰德（Stewart Brand），就住在离这儿不远的门洛帕克市。他用诗一般的语言把刊物办得生动活泼。那是 20 世纪 60 年代末，还没有个人电脑和桌面印刷系统，全靠打字机、剪刀和宝丽莱照相机（Polaroid）。它就像一种纸质的 Google，却比 Google 早问世了 35 年。这份刊物太完美了，查阅手段齐备、构思不凡。
斯图尔特和他的同事们出了好几期《全球概览》，到最后办不下去时，他们出了最后一期。那是 20 世纪 70 年代中期，我也就是你们现在的年纪。最后一期的封底上是一张清晨乡间小路的照片，就是那种爱冒险的人等在那儿搭便车的那种小路。照片下面写道: 好学若饥、谦卑若愚。那是他们停刊前的告别辞。