If you have never seen Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford you have to watch it. It is only fifteen minutes long and it will make you reflect back on your life and examine how different events impacted you.
I don’t think anyone thought that his speech would go the way that it did. He tells 3 stories that shaped him. All of these stories were negative. The first story he tells is about dropping out of college. The second story is about being fired from Apple and the last story is about being diagnosed with cancer.
For a man who had accomplished so much in his life it is strange that he would talk about those three stories and not about founding Apple or Pixar. Instead he spoke about the harsh reality that many college graduates don’t like to think about and that is that we are all going to have failures in our life. We are not defined by our failures but how we react to the failures. Being fired from a company that you started had to be humiliating. It obviously hurt him but he didn’t look at it that way. He looked at it as a chance to have a new beginning. It fueled his passion to start something again. This speech reminds me of a quote from Winston Churchill. He said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
This year it is important to remember that when we go through difficult times we need to keep our focus on the response we have versus dwelling on what has happened. Be the kind of person that feeds off failure and turn it into the best thing that has ever happened to you.