By all accounts, Steve Jobs was a difficult person to work with. He was, after all, the man that said, “my job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

For all his faults (and perhaps because of them), Steve Jobs was someone that truly did help change the way the world works. To mark the fifth anniversary of his death, we’ve compiled some wise words from the man himself.

Here are five Steve Jobs quotes that will make you reevaluate your life choices:

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

Deep down, we all know what we’d really like to be doing. Sure, it’s probably not possible for you to become the Blue Jays’ starting shortstop, but ask yourself, is there something in that fantasy (aside from the money and fame) that can point you towards a job that you’ll truly love?

More importantly, what does that desire tell you about your current job? Do you wake up dreading going into the office? Your heart is telling you something – listen to it and have the courage to follow its lead.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

Ever hear of the KISS Principle? KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid,” which is a reminder that things tend to work best if they are kept simple.

KISS acronym

This principle runs through Jobs’ career and the design ethos he encouraged, but as he said, it’s also the more challenging approach to take. The thing is, it’s usually also the most rewarding.

Life tends to get more cluttered as we get older, but the more you can focus in on what’s important, to make things simple, the better off you’ll be.

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

When it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, you might feel as if you’re in this alone, but that isn’t always the best way to approach things. Even someone as successful as Steve Jobs was adamant that his success was built on the collaboration of many different people.

If you don’t have this kind of work environment, look for ways to better collaborate with colleagues and superiors. Propose new meetings and brainstorming sessions, and seek out feedback and opinions. Not only will this give your work the benefit of outside points of view, it will also open the door for future collaboration. If this really isn’t possible at your current job, maybe it’s time to look for something new? It might not be that hard to find. After all, as Drake and Rihanna have shown, this is the collaboration generation.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Jobs was so dogged and determined, author Joshua Kendall believes he had obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. We’re not suggesting that you need to take things that far, but clearly, setting goals and chipping away at them over time is a good recipe for success. As Jobs himself showed, mistakes will happen over the course of a career. The important thing is to keep pushing ahead.

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”

Maybe it’s dark to be constantly reminded of death. But sometimes, that’s exactly the kick in the pants we need. Life really is brief (Jobs died at the age of 56), and the things we do on a daily basis should be excellent. They should be worthy of our limited time.

Can you say that about your current career? If not, it’s time to make a change. It’s never too late, until it is.


See also:

Courage: inspiring words from Gord Downie
Mark Zuckerberg has one rule for hiring at Facebook
10 IT jobs that pay more than $50,000
The most annoying workplace behaviours


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