In a few years from now, my kids will ask me what it was like to be alive when Steve Jobs was the world’s best innovator and businessman.
They will ask me: “Jobs was the best person in business when you were young. What was he like? What did you learn from him?”
What will my answer be?
You see, it is human nature to overlook the importance of those who are here and now. Those who are great and live among us seem more normal because they’re breathing the same air that we are.
But we realize the greatness of such people only when they are gone.
Like now, when Steve Jobs is no longer with us, I have this regret that I wasn’t paying more attention while he was with us.
The wisdom he shared over the years – at every speech he made, in his product presentations for Apple, or in his casual chats – now seems 10 times wiser because he’s no longer with us.
So, I’ll pause today and remind myself of the 3 great lessons Steve Jobs has taught me as a human being (and also as an investor).
1. Never fear failure
Jobs was fired by the successor he picked. Yet, he didn’t lose hope because as he said, “I still loved what I was doing.” He picked up his life’s lost pieces and got back to work following his passion.
This is what Jobs said when asked about his feelings after being ousted from Apple…
“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.”
Over the past eight years of my investing life, I have rather frequently – and on occasion, quite spectacularly – failed. But that is something I’ve always expected to happen.
No one really knows what is going to happen in the future. This is especially true when it comes to the stock markets. So why pretend otherwise?
I believe if you really want to succeed as an investor, first expect to fail…expect to be wrong. And then, when you really go wrong, don’t waste time laying the blame on others.
Instead, collect the broken pieces, fix them, and start investing again – with your mistakes not behind you, but right beside you as hard lessons you’ve learnt on investing.
2. Listen to your inner voice, and it will show you the way
This is something that most investors don’t do. Instead of going by what their ‘inner voice’ tells them to do, they do what they hear from the stock market experts.
But then, this is the way most of us have been living our lives. Most of us don’t hear the voice that comes from inside our heads. We simply decide that we’re going to work in finance or be a doctor because that’s what our parents want us to do or because we ourselves want to make a lot of money. And when we consciously or unconsciously make that decision, we snuff out that little voice in our head.
The biggest problem with going by someone else’s advice (in life and in investing) is that not only it could be wrong (and in most cases in investing, it is wrong), but that advice also inhibits your own ability to form independent judgments.
Look at Jobs. He was always a restless soul, always a man with a plan. But his plan wasn’t for everyone. It was his plan. He wanted to build computers, and that is what he did.
In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told he only had a few weeks to live. Here is what he told the audience at the 2005 Stanford commencement speech:
“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.”
So, follow you heart…your inner voice. As an investor, whatever this voice is telling you, you would be smart to listen to it.
If it tells you to avoid the dud stock others are buying, or buy the great stock others are selling…just do it.
3. Anything is possible through determination and a sense of vision
Steve Jobs had a vision. He worked hard at it. And he achieved it.
Even though he had been seriously ill, he continued to work hard on the development of new products and technologies.
I have often asked myself if I would have worked as hard if I was as ill as Steve Jobs. My answer is that my wife most likely would not have let me work, and I would have stayed home. But then, I am not Steve Jobs.
Although Jobs was the greatest CEO ever, at the end of the day, he was just a husband, a father, a friend – like you and me.
You can be just as special as he was – if you learn his lessons and start applying them in your life.
You can get successful as an investor, only if you give yourself time and work hard towards your goal.
This can change your entire life, and investing is a small part of it.
Anyways, here is what Seth Godin, the leading American entrepreneur, author and public speaker, has to write about Steve Jobs in his latest blog post…
“I can’t compose a proper eulogy for Steve Jobs. There’s too much to say, too many capable of saying it better than I ever could. It’s one thing to miss someone, to feel a void when they’re gone. It’s another to do something with their legacy, to honor them through your actions. Steve devoted his professional life to giving us (you, me and a billion other people) the most powerful device ever available to an ordinary person. Everything in our world is different because of the device you’re reading this on. What are we going to do with it?”
Now let me ask you – If Steve Jobs taught you some lessons, what are you going to do with them?
By the way, here is a video of Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, which I quoted above. If there is one speech or video you must see this year, this must be it.
Watch, enjoy, and share.
PS: Don’t forget – If you have a friend or colleague who you think would like to hear from me, please sign them up at www.safalniveshak.com. They’ll get a polite invitation – which they can decline – and I never share my email lists.