Brain Pickings

The Secret of Life from Steve Jobs in 46 Seconds

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“Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two months since Steve Jobs passed away. And yet, despite all the personal remembrances and timeless quotes and unearthed documentaries, this 46-second interview excerpt featured in a recent PBS documentary on Jobs captures his wisdom, his genius, and his vision for life more articulately and succinctly than anything else.

When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

The footage actually comes from a 1995 interview conducted by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, while Jobs was still at NeXT, with the missing parts and no PBS-esque docu-dramatic music score:

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Also from SCVHA’s interview, Jobs’ thoughts on failure:

Most people never pick up the phone, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you gotta be willing to fail… if you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

(Cue in famous creators on the fear of failure.)

For more of Jobs’ wisdom and timeless insights on technology and psychology — at the intersection of which, one might argue, shone his true genius — don’t forget the excellent I, Steve.

HT @nickbilton

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