Remember a guy called Steve Jobs?
Remember his most memorable statement “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”?
Almost everyday I run into people who quote his statement with fire in their eyes. But I sense the type of inspiration that they feel – the passion, the go-get-‘em-batman spirit – being very different from the inspiration that runs through me. I feel openness. I feel humility.
Thousands of people have tried to decipher what he actually meant in this address to Stanford students.
The top rated answer to a “what does he mean?” question on StackExchange was: “Never be satisfied, and always push yourself.”
I believe this interpretation is off the mark. Having read about Steve Jobs extensively, I believe he was better than someone who simply advocates more and more.
What he said is probably a poor cousin’s version to Charlie Chaplin’s “That’s what all we are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.”
In another way, Master Jiro Ono (of Sukiyabashi Jiro fame) said: “Feeling you can still evolve is important”.
All of these people did not talk about wanting, or even pushing. They talked about a spirit that is open and humble, a will to try new things and new ideas even in the face of adversity or perceived foolishness. More and more implies going wide. These people talked about going deep, about less and less.
William Blake expressed the same idea in his signature poetic language:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
The understanding of “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” comes from the heart, not the head.
A friend of mine summed this up best when someone asked him: “So what are we all before we become amateurs?”
He replied: “Professionals”.
It took me three hundred and thirty three words to express this idea. It took him one word.
Such is the balancing act between head and heart.
📸 Tim Marshall