To close his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech (a speech curiously delivered to students upon graduation), Steve Jobs quoted the advice given to readers of the final edition of a publication called the Whole Earth Catalogue. The quote, which he suggested should be a guiding principle for his audience throughout their lives, was: "Stay hungry – stay foolish."
Your age truly is in your attitude
Earlier in the speech, Jobs noted: "Your time on this earth is limited, so don’t waste it by living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped with dogma, which is living with the consequences of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice and, most importantly, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition."
Read more Subversive Sam: Over 50? We're the invisible generation
Steve Jobs barely lived to middle age, but he achieved more in his life than most. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest he was anything but a moral and decent man. Many suggested he was a most unpleasant individual.
One thing he wasn't though, was an individual who would say: "I couldn’t do that at my age."
As the first quote suggests, Jobs was of the view that the hunger and foolishness of youth should be maintained throughout life and until death. As the second quote suggests, Jobs was attracted to the notion that people should live their own lives their own way, with little if any consideration for social norms or what others think. In this regard, I believe he was 100 percent right.
Someone years ago told me the story of the young man who died at 23 but was not buried until he was 80. In other words, this was the story of a man who kept breathing but stopped living when he was young - spending the balance of his life living to breathe rather than breathing to live.
Whenever a person says, "I could not do that at my age", what they are actually saying is, "I will live by the standards of others rather than my own standards".
They are certainly not living as Steve Jobs suggested.
Whenever a person suggests that their age should determine what they think, say, or do, they are actually suggesting that "part of me has died already", and that part is their capacity to be who they are.
Children, especially young children, do what they do with impunity and little regard for what others think. Why does this change as we get older? Why are any of us, particularly in middle-aged and beyond, so concerned about what other think? Why are the middle-aged and older so resistant to "staying hungry and staying foolish"?
I have learned to care little about what others think, especially about me. I cannot see how it matters. I cannot see what I gain by listening to what others think in relation to what I should or shouldn't do.
I am damned if I am ever going to say: "I couldn’t do that at my age!! I am going to do at my age, and at any age, exactly what I want I think I should do. I know death is not that far away, but I am only going to die once and I intend to live right up until my lungs stop sucking air.
What about you?
Are you going to let anyone else influence how you dress, wear your hair, enjoy your leisure time, what you watch, who you mix with or what you say? I hope not.
Every time we allow society to influence us in a way that leads us to say or even think I could not do that at my age, we are letting more of ourselves die. Other than those legislated, there should never be any rules that govern the way we lead our lives. We are all free spirits when we are born and should remain so until we die that first and last time.
Every day you are still alive, and particularly as you shake the restriction placed on you by your workplace, you should say what you think, wear what you want, do what makes you happy (so long as it hurts no one) and live your life your way.
You should never say; "I cannot do that it my age”. And for that matter. You should never say you can't do something given your age, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or religion!
Stay hungry, stay foolish!