The best graduation speech, ever.

It’s that time of year.  I seldom pay much attention to graduation speeches.  I can’t remember anything said at my own, nor do any quotes come to mind from celebrities whose commencement addresses get soundbytes played on the news every June.  But there is one graduation speech I’ve read and listened to many times and continues to be a source of inspiration.  You may know it.  If not, I’m happy to pass it on.

Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005

Steve Jobs at Stanford, 2005

In 2005, Steve Jobs, whose academic career consisted of one semester of college and a few audited classes, was chosen as the graduation speaker at Stanford.  In his brief but memorable address, he spoke of finding one’s true vision, following our hearts, and not wasting our all-to-brief time walking someone else’s path.  Here are three of my favorite quotes from the speech:

“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.”

About getting 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…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…keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“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.”

I invite you hear everything this visionary had to say that day, in a  text version of the speech, and / or this video clip.

5 thoughts on “The best graduation speech, ever.

  1. I’ve been through 6 or 7 graduation ceremonies, and all that I remember from them are vague impressions. I remember that the valedictorian of my older brother’s graduating class gave a fantastic speech, whereas the salutatorian of my class – who was one of my best friends throughout school – gave the single worst speech that I heard at any of the ceremonies.

    I believe you’ve posted this speech before, and I probably commented that I really enjoyed it. So I suppose I should say again that it’s a wonderful speech, and thank you for posting it.


    • Thanks Adam. I vaguely remembered posting it before and even searched for “Steve Jobs.” Then, for some reason, I didn’t read all the posts that mentioned his name. I’m pretty sure I didn’t post the youtube clip, so that at least is new…


      • It’s a speech well worth posting multiple times, and it’s always good to have clips for the speeches if you can find them.


    • Reading it, I realized times have changed a lot since he and we were young – it’s a lot harder to simply explore options or go trekking India – and yet the basic question – what do you want to do, giving a limited amount of time, still demands an honest answer from us all.


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