Steve Jobs was a regular badass.
Most of us remember Jobs as the co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc, the brand of computer that I am typing this very blog post on. He also owned a large stake in Pixar Animation Studios and served on the board of directors at The Walt Disney World Company.
Jobs’ life accomplishments would make even the most successful person in the world take notice.
Jobs was also super rich with a net worth topping $11 billion. He had all the money that he could stand. Stuff. Power. Influence. Of all the things that most people aspire to be or achieve, Jobs arguably achieved them all. When Jobs walked into a room, people shut up.
Money can buy a great many things. It can buy power and back influence. It can spur social progress. It can also fund amazing advances in science and medicine, enable breakthroughs in cancer research and provide meaningful support to families all around the world. Money can do amazing things.
How did Steve Jobs die?
In 2011, Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer. And in his death, his remarkable lesson about money and life truly comes to light.
And we would all be wise to keep the power of money in perspective.
We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it. — Steve Jobs
What we can learn from Steve Jobs’ death
Jobs may have been one of the richest people in the world, but his money didn’t care. His business may have single-handedly transformed the ordinary cell phone into a stunningly powerful, yet beautifully crafted, piece of technology — but that didn’t matter either.
Steve Jobs may have looked himself in the mirror every night and told himself that he’s the most influential man in technology, but influence can’t keep men alive.
Jobs’ death taught us of the things that money cannot buy. It can prolong life, but some things are bigger than money. Some things are far more powerful – yeah, like your heart.
Life doesn’t care about your money.
His death should remind us of how important it is to enjoy life as much as we can while we have it. Whether we accumulate $100,000 or $100,000,000, the ability to sit back, take a deep breath and feel relaxed and content with the life that we have built for ourselves is a critical element of existence that money cannot – and should not – buy.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. – Steve Jobs
The fact is any of us can work our asses off to build up a $5m nest egg and get into a car accident the very next day and lose our life, or get diagnosed with cancer, contract a rare disease or suffer a heart attack. In an instant, our lives as we know them can change forever.
Does that mean that we should stop striving for our own versions of success? Should we sit on our ass all day and do nothing, lest something happen? Hell no. Certainly not.
What it does mean, if we take Jobs’ lesson about money to heart, is that all the money in the world can’t prevent life from happening. Jobs’ pancreas didn’t care that the man was worth more than $11 billion dollars or that he ran one of the most successful technology companies in the history of the world. Money is powerful, but it’s not THAT powerful.
And so, go out there and make lots of money. Innovate. Succeed. Create the next Google. Start your new business. Be a badass, but don’t forget that no amount of money, power or influence can keep life from happening. If it’s your time, it’s your time. Your bank account will not matter.
Likewise, money is the basis of early retirement. We track our portfolios. We meticulously budget our monthly expenses. We crunch numbers to calculate the likelihood of our portfolio’s success over the years. In a way, money buys retirement.
Do your best to achieve your retirement goals, but keep channeling this lesson from Steve Jobs into your mind because, after all…
Life is short.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.