October 8, 2011


Steve Jobs on why we're hereWhen they built you, brother,
they turned dust into gold.
When they built you, brother,
they broke the mold.
— Bruce Springsteen

How fickle we are. How quickly we forget.

We were terrified by 9/11 but now it's 2011. This week, we're shocked by the death of Steve Jobs. Next time, something else will jar us.

Each time, we Think Different for a bit. We're tempted to do something that matters but life gets in the way. Our most vivid memories fade. Routine returns to rule. We become part of the conforming crowd in the ‘1984’ commercial. But only with our consent and inaction.


We love talking but talk alone doesn't improve our lives. Or the lives we care about. We must act. We're surrounded by uncertainty. Each breath could be our last. Let that knowledge empower us. Not immobilize.


They say you can't take it with you,
but I think that they're wrong.
'Cause all I know is I woke up this morning,
and something big was gone.
— Bruce Springsteen
Steve Jobs died at 56. He had pancreatic cancer and stepped down from running Apple just weeks ago. His death still came as a shock around the world.

Steve was relatively young. He could get the best health care in the world but his $6.7 billion couldn't buy him good health. Isn't that a valuable lesson?

As a Buddhist, Steve would have a theoretical understanding of mortality. In 2004, cancer gave him a personal perspective. He saw that his own life was finite. He shared his experiences at Stanford in 2005. His speech is well worth (re-)watching or (re-)reading … after you finish this post.

Buttoned Up?

"My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes."
— Steve Jobs (2005)
Is your life "buttoned up" now while you have time to prepare? Steve didn't need health insurance to cover his hefty medical bills or disability insurance to replace his lost income. Steve didn't need life insurance to provide for his family. Few of us can say the same.

Suppose Steve wanted insurance. Too bad. You can only get coverage when you don't need any. You buy insurance with your good health.

Unless your health is improving, waiting until tomorrow is always worse than applying today. Getting approved can take months. If your health changes while you're waiting, you may be required to pay more — if you're even insurable. I'm working on a case right now where no coverage is available at any price.

Steve did more than button up for his family. He also took care of Apple. That’s called succession planning and is easily mangled, especially by small business.


"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it."
— Steve Jobs (2005)
We keep seeing the importance of planning but seeing isn't doing. We can focus on our circle of influence. Do what you can, while you can.

Yes, there's always tomorrow, but not necessarily for us. That's why what we do today matters so much. The winter chill is on the way. Are you buttoned up?


Podcast 138 (5:06)

direct download | Internet Archive page | iTunes

PS Steve, thanks for making our lives better.

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