Let me start out by stating that, I love Apple computers and Steve Jobs. After having one of the first Macintosh computers in college, I like many had to use Windows based machines in my working environment. Quite honestly, I could survive with either platform but made the change to Apple just over a year ago and I continue to be pleased with my decision.
In an interview between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Mr. Gates was asked what he admired most about Steve Jobs. He responded; “I would give a lot to have Steve’s taste.” It is hard to disagree with his answer. The apple family of products, if nothing else, has style and good taste.
In his commencement address to the graduating class of Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs told a story of how he was interested in and attended a calligraphy class at Reed College. This was after he officially dropped out of the university. He did not really utilize this knowledge until he was involved in the design of the Macintosh computer where he implemented the calligraphy concepts he learned 10 years earlier into the typefaces and fonts.
This story is just one great example of how learning can have profound impact on your life even if the subject appears to be irrelevant to your current situation. I have always taken the position that if you can learn just one new idea, fact, concept etc… from a book, seminar, course, conversation or any other medium, that the time and/or money was worth it. That one piece of information may just be that piece of the puzzle or something that leads you to that piece of the puzzle that puts it all together and increases your results exponentially in whatever you are trying to accomplish.
The overall theme of the commencement address was that you need to find what you love to do because it is difficult to be successful at something you are not passionate about. But how do you find out what your passionate about if you do not learn or try a wide variety of subjects? Unfortunately, most people do not get exposed to enough disciplines before making a career choice. In many cases, it is not until later in life when chained with responsibilities that many of them find their passion. Of course it is never too late but sooner is better.
Another interesting thing about learning is the direction it can take you. You can continue your learning by gradually getting more specific until you are the foremost expert on a very specific of topic or you may broaden your knowledge on many different subjects thus becoming a more well rounded person. Depending on where you are in your life may dictate which path of learning you choose not that this is necessarily an either/or proposition.
I urge all parents of K-12 children to expose them to as many subjects as possible. These subjects should encompass not just academics but also sports, hobbies, travel etc… I also believe that students who choose to go to college should pursue a solid liberal arts degree and then make their first career decision or go onto graduate school at that point within a specific discipline.
Much has been said about purpose over the past several years and I am sure there is something to it however there is no guarantee that you or I will ever find our true purpose. Therefore, how should you act and feel if you are at least sure that you have not found your purpose yet? Empty. Confused. Impatient. No, you keep moving towards the subjects and careers that interest you, which means that you should learn as much as you can about everything. You will know fairly quickly if a subject warrants further study based on how happy or interested you are. You never know when something you learn may come in handy when you do find your purpose or dream job.
If you absolutely love your career, congratulations! Keep working on becoming the best you can be and strive to continually expand your potential. Learn outside your field because you just may find a piece of a puzzle that helps with a major paradigm shift or breakthrough in your industry.
If you do not love your career, congratulations! Your quest for a more fulfilling cause will most likely be a period of enlightenment that takes you places you never dreamed. Make sure to take some type of action everyday no matter how big or small. Ask yourself everyday; “What action am I going to take today to move me closer to where I want to be?”
Just remember calligraphy and computers.