Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

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Steve Jobs demonstrates tremendous tunnel vision as he talks about his life in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, this white man with a loving family makes a huge and very basic error in logic: because he somehow managed to “make it” doesn’t mean that everyone does — or will. Most of us fail, and fail miserably, and fail publicly, and we fail repeatedly until the day we die as we strive to do what we love.


Comments

  1. #1 Phillip IV
    April 12, 2010

    Most of us fail, and fail miserably, and fail publicly, and we fail repeatedly until the day we die as we strive to do what we love.

    Yeah, that’s true, but I’d suspect Steve Jobs is aware of it, as well – it’s probably just that he was giving a commencement speech. A commencement speech is a little bit like a funeral eulogy – you’re generally expected to restrict yourself to the palatable part of the truth.

  2. #2 Gerry Callaghan
    April 12, 2010

    Samuel Beckett had a more realistic take on the issue:

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

  3. #3 Sharon Astyk
    April 13, 2010

    I’m inclined to give him a sort of a pass since the genre of commencement address is such an empty one, but yes, you are completely right.

    Sharon

  4. #4 John Peloquin
    April 13, 2010

    What would you have him do at a commencement- tell the kids something that would de-motivate them? While it’s unarguably true that most of them will “fail” no matter how hard they work, that is no reason to not strive to achieve their goals. Though “success”, as in doing everything you wanted to do without fail is very very rare if not non-existant, without attempting to “succeed”, you are absolutely bound to fail. And falling short of one’s goals doesn’t have to suck either.

    Samuel Beckett’s quote is quite appropriate on this issue.

  5. #5 John Peloquin
    April 13, 2010

    What would you have him do at a commencement- tell the kids something that would de-motivate them? While it’s unarguably true that most of them will “fail” no matter how hard they work, that is no reason to not strive to achieve their goals. Though “success”, as in doing everything you wanted to do without fail is very very rare if not non-existent, without attempting to “succeed”, you are absolutely bound to fail. And falling short of one’s goals doesn’t have to suck either.

    Samuel Beckett’s quote is quite appropriate on this issue.

  6. #6 Grant
    April 14, 2010

    I still think that a better message is to teach students that success is finding a “fit” that works for you. I’ve words to that effect in a blog post as advice to students starting university (linked on my name).

    The try and try again message is good, but only if it’s coupled to other things to round it out.

    (I haven’t watched the video; haven’t time. I confess to being a winner of one of Apple’s “Crazy Ones” T-shirt. Similar sentiment I suspect as to his speech.)

  7. #7 MadScientist
    April 14, 2010

    It’s Stanford – you have to pretend no one can fail. Hell, just look at Harvard (well, that MBA mill, the ‘business school’) and Yale and the Bushes. See, it’s not *what* you know, it’s *who* you know. To be fair to Jobs, he did have some ideas that weren’t bad and yet he lost a fortune on them – but like any good businessman he didn’t let that stop him from trying again, and he’s found himself in a profitable business.

  8. #8 "GrrlScientist"
    April 16, 2010

    unfortunately, we are not all businessmen, we all do not and will never “know” someone who can give us a leg up and even when we do find our heart’s desire, we often are barred from pursuing it. in short, in this “winner takes all” society, we can’t ALL be “winners,” regardless of how hard we strive to achieve this. i think a more realistic speech would have been more appropriate.

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