Steve Jobs resigned from Apple yesterday. As his era ends, people have been reflecting on key moments in his life. One moment resonated with me: his 2005 Stanford commencement speech. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I urge you to do so.
At the end of the speech, he signs off with the last message from the Whole Earth Catalog: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.
I started reflecting on what this truly means.
To me, staying hungry means always having a mountain to climb, an ambition you’re striving toward. As we age, we often achieve our ambitions and forget to set new ones. Once you’ve scaled the mountain and discover the amazing view, you work toward building roads to show others that view or return to the base so you can scale it again.
But while expanding on our successes brings us stability, growth requires that we attempt new challenges. To be always hungry for more, and to never rest on past achievements.
Richard St. John presented an excellent TED Talk on this exact subject: Success is a continuous journey.
Staying foolish means being willing to take chances with crazy ideas. This implies a willingness to fail, as most crazy ideas will fail. But those that succeed, often succeed fantastically.
As others have pointed out, this embodies the ethos of the entrepreneur. To take on new challenges that others think are crazy, and then to succeed doing them. To do the impossible.
What things have you done that were foolish and succeeded, or only would have happened because you had a gut-level hunger to make them happen?