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Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011, Don’t Settle

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. —Steve Jobs

I planned a whole different blog today, but it just seems right to devote this space to Steve Jobs.

It’s not that I’m a techie, I don’t own a Mac or IPad or IPhone. Still, this brilliant man contributed so much to our world. In challenging himself and his company to push every boundary and think outside the lines, he taught us all about innovation, taking risks and daring to be different. He challenged us not to settle.

For me, his quote rings so true. I spent most of my career in Human Resources. Overall, I was successful, enjoyed much of my work, and didn’t love parts of it. I did those parts because I was learning and growing, and frankly, it paid the bills.

About a dozen years ago, I admitted to myself that my work didn’t fulfill me. For a long while, I tried to fill that gap by writing “on the side.” Still, I found myself thinking, I can’t do this work for another ten or twenty years.

My favorite part of being a Human Resources Generalist had always been training and coaching leaders. I decided it was time to devote myself to that work. It meant stepping down on the career ladder after years of moving up. It wasn’t an easy step to take and some colleagues thought it was foolish to give up my executive position – my seat at the table – and take a salary cut. They made good points, but in the end I followed my heart, and made the right move for me.

It’s a gift to get up every day and make a difference doing the work you love. Steve Jobs said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Please post - Are you doing the work you love or are you settling?


  1. I was in Brussels touring the city after a work day when my work friend told me that Steve Jobs had died. We weren't surprised; but it was like hearing a favorite cousin or friend was gone. We had an hour to kill. So we reminisced about his life. Picture two middle-aged career women sitting on the marble steps of the central train station in Brussels watching the Steve Jobs Stanford speech on an iPhone as people rush by to catch their trains. I had read the speech and heard it before, but knowing Jobs was gone now made it even more special. My friend is going through difficult times at work. The role she once loved is now a daily burden; there is no joy. Steve's words reinforced what she already knew: she must leave our company. Losing a work friend to corporate dysfunction affects your own perspective. I can practice my profession almost anywhere. Do I want to hang out with these people for another 10 years? (Will they allow me to stay or force me out the way my friend is being treated?) The story that Jobs told about his life -- from being adopted to being fired to getting cancer -- gives you hope that failure and change can create wonderful new beginnings. Rest in peace, Steve. Thanks for challenging us to think about it, Carol.

  2. The quote I love from the Stanford speech is "And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition....Everything else is secondary."

  3. I'm reading the blogs from you and Carol for the first time. I haven't had contact with either of you for close to about 15 years and am feeling so good about everything the two of your are writing. I feel like I've been living in a vacuum for too long. You give me hope. Thanks.

    Linda Kidd

  4. For me, writing is one of the things that keeps me out of the vacuum or shows me the way out when i get sucked in :)

  5. I'm afraid I have settled too often in my career as a graphic artist/designer in order to be employed doing what I love. There were too many compromises, however, and times when my bosses tried to fit my non-linear creative thinking into their very linear "ideas". All in all, though, it was (and I use the past tense literally) a very good career until 2008. That's when I was laid off as a Creative Director. A creative director in the linear business world is viewed as a decorative throw pillow on your couch. Lose the pillows and you can squeeze more people into the sofa.

    Fast forward to December, 2010 when I was hired by Apple to work at one of their premier stores in San Francisco. Let's face it – my ego had been bruised "settling" for a part-time retail gig paying a fraction of my earnings as a Creative Director. I've received solace in comments like, "it's harder to get into Harvard than landing a job at Apple." Somehow, I don't think they meant a job at the retail level (even though each store receives hundreds of resumes every day).

    None the less, I have stayed. Since San Francisco and Cupertino are both part of the Bay Area, the passing of our fearless leader hit us especially hard. I was working in my store on Chestnut Street that sunny, October afternoon when word came down from one of our managers that Steve had died. The usually noisy, bustling store became quiet and still. No one really knew what to do except to talk about it – among ourselves and our customers who took the news just as hard as us employees. The store leaders pulled us aside and offered time off the floor or to go home if we needed to. When I arrived for work the following morning before the store opened, I was greeting by flowers, notes and yes, apples laid at the entrance. The back-lit Apple logo atop the entrance was turned off for the first time since the retail stores opened over 10 years ago. It was like losing a family member.

    I passed my one year anniversary last December. My job at Apple is the first one I've had where everyone treats each other with respect and kindness, offering encouragement and support when the going gets rough and cheers for a job well done.

    Steve Jobs inspired a great company that lives on in its people as much, if not more than in its products. I am proud to be a small part of that legacy.

    It's time to put on my blue shirt and walk through the streets of San Francisco on this beautiful winter day to my job at the Apple store in the Marina.

  6. Libby, Great to hear from you and to be reminded in this tough economic time that there are still USA companies that inspire and engage employees

  7. I'm a speech-language pathologist in a public school. I love the students, the creativity and being part of a school community. About ten years ago I seriously considered getting my certification in administration--more money, more policy making, more power. I took three classes at a local college, then dropped out. Why? Because I didn't love it. Not only did teaching give me a creative outlet with students, it also gave me shorter work days and summers off to really delve into my writing. I've never regreted my decision to stay put on the career ladder as opposed to take that giant step up.

    1. Thanks for your story, Peggy. It is wonderful to do work every day that you love. That it also gives you time to write, is an extra gift