Back in 1982, a 26-year-old Steve Jobs gave a speech upon receiving the “Golden Plate” award from the Academy of Achievement in Washington, D.C.
It was a chance for Jobs to talk to high-achieving youngsters about how to make their lives and the world better.
He also detailed a realization that changed his life.
“One of the things that I had in my mind growing up — I don’t know how it got there — but that the world was sort of something that happened just outside your peepers, and you didn’t really try to change it,” he said, according to the transcript provided on Genius.“You just sort of tried to find your place in it and have the best life you could. And it would all just go on out there, and there were some pretty bright people running it.”
But here’s the thing.
“As you start to interact with some of these people,” he continued, “you find they’re not a lot different than you.”
In other words, the people leading the world — in business, politics, culture — are just people.
Therefore, it’s actually within the realm of possibility that you — also just a person — could change the world.
“The people actually making these decisions every day, that are sort of running the world, are not really very much different than you,” Jobs said. “And they might have a little more judgment in some areas, but basically they’re the same.”
To Jobs, this realization brought about a sense of “responsibility” toward the world. If you have the capacity to improve the well-being of society, then you’re obligated to. Like philosophers have said for centuries, it’s essential to a meaningful life.
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