That’s what I’m interested in talking about today. Because if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that technology doesn’t change who we are, it magnifies who we are, the good and the bad.
Our problems – in technology, in politics, wherever – are human problems. From the Garden of Eden to today, it’s our humanity that got us into this mess, and it’s our humanity that’s going to have to get us out.
But whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create define who you are.
It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this. But if you’ve built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos. Taking responsibility means having the courage to think things through.
Graduates, at the very least, learn from these mistakes. If you want to take credit, first learn to take responsibility.
In other words, whatever you do with your life, be a builder.
You don’t have to start from scratch to build something monumental. And, conversely, the best founders – the ones whose creations last and whose reputations grow rather than shrink with passing time – they spend most of their time building, piece by piece.
Builders are comfortable in the belief that their life’s work will one day be bigger than them – bigger than any one person. They’re mindful that its effects will span generations. That’s not an accident. In a way, it’s the whole point.
Graduates, being a builder is about believing that you cannot possibly be the greatest cause on this Earth, because you aren’t built to last. It’s about making peace with the fact that you won’t be there for the end of the story.
Fourteen years ago, Steve stood on this stage and told your predecessors: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Here’s my corollary: “Your mentors may leave you prepared, but they can’t leave you ready.”
When the dust settled, all I knew was that I was going to have to be the best version of myself that I could be.
I knew that if you got out of bed every morning and set your watch by what other people expect or demand, it’ll drive you crazy.
So what was true then is true now. Don’t waste your time living someone else’s life. Don’t try to emulate the people who came before you to the exclusion of everything else, contorting into a shape that doesn’t fit.
It takes too much mental effort – effort that should be dedicated to creating and building. You’ll waste precious time trying to rewire your every thought, and, in the mean time, you won’t be fooling anybody.
Graduates, the fact is, when your time comes, and it will, you’ll never be ready.
But you’re not supposed to be. Find the hope in the unexpected. Find the courage in the challenge. Find your vision on the solitary road.
Don’t get distracted.
There are too many people who want credit without responsibility.
Too many who show up for the ribbon cutting without building anything worth a damn.
Be different. Leave something worthy.
And always remember that you can’t take it with you. You’re going to have to pass it on.