What Could Be

This is one of my all time favorite Graduation speeches. And it’s not because Steve Jobs is so eloquent here, to be honest, it’s the least charismatic I’ve ever seen him. He’s reading from his notes the entire time. He seems rattled at times, and he makes as much eye contact as a nervous accountant.

But behind his 15 minutes of Stanford fame is something more important. Something that no amount of speech preparation can give you. Behind Steve Jobs talk is an interesting life. One filled with risk and discontent, failure and success (with the two blending together quite a bit) love and loss. And so all Steve Jobs did was tell his story to a bunch of kids who are still hopeful enough to think they can do something significant too.

Now I’ve spoken at graduations before, and it can be a kick in the pants. Nobody really came to hear you, they came to watch their significant other march into that next season of life. There are about a thousand ways to fail, and only a couple of ways to succeed. And that is what Jobs shows us. Don’t tell people what a good life is, show it to them.

John Ortberg once said that the most dangerous chair in the house is the Easy Chair, it’s ergonomically designed to insulate us from ever wanting to move again. And it’s good at it’s job. It convinces us that the best thing we can do is actually not much as all. One brand is actually called the Lazy boy, actually it’s spelled Laz-boy, as if that extra letter is just too much effort.

But nobody ever walked away from a speech that was written in a Laz-Boy in awe.


I found an article recently about Steve Jobs that I thought was interesting. It was by, John Sculley, the man he recruited to be his CEO for running Apple. He recruited Sculley from Pepsi, and he was a man, who admitted to not knowing a thing about computers.

Sculley talked alot about how hard it was working with Steve Jobs. He was a man with an incredibly high set of standards. The designers and programmers would bring things back to Steve a dozen times before he would approve them, but, and here’s what I think is fascinating, everyone kept working. Sculley talked about how the vision for what they could accomplish was worth the sacrifices they were making now. He made them feel like they were a part of something really big.

But what was really cool was how Steve hired Sculley in the first place. In one of the most classic recruits of all time, Steve approached John Sculley while he was an upper executive with Pepsi. They talked for a while discussed the offer, and then Steve said this: ““Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Basically, Steve Jobs was saying, “Do you see what could be?”

Maybe you saw this a couple of years ago, it was the CEO of Microsoft response when the 1st Generation of the Iphone was released. He laughed.

50 million Iphones later he’s not laughing, he may not even be employed.

That’s the problem with vision, you might see something no one else sees. You might just have people laugh at you and call you foolish, but that’s only because they can’t see it yet.   So how do you get people to see what they currently can’t? There’s a thousand different ways to ask people to stop selling Sugar Water, or to get off their Laz-Boy.

But I like Steve Jobs’ way of doing it. He just tells his story.

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

7 thoughts on “What Could Be

  1. Jonathan, I love this. I do love that Steve Jobs is willing to tell his story….we desperately need to know each others’ stories. We are hungry for story.
    Thank you for seeing that.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! It seems that the Lord has been teaching me and showing me through many different avenues, mainly His people, that waiting on Him to author my purpose and my passion has been worth it. I identified with so much of what Steve shared about finding a job and vocation that is soul-satisfying and brings joy as well as fulfilling a purpose and calling. That is so true. I am very, very excited and expectant to see what my future holds as God’s vision for it is unveiled and put into action. I’m so thankful, Jonathan, that you are a man of vision and that you are contagiously excited and hopeful for the future of Highland and Abilene. Blessings, brother!

  3. Julie, thanks I agree. I think sharing our stories is the most compelling way to share life.

    Keith, that’s exactly right. Failure tends to lead to an opportunity for future ministry.

    Lauren, Thanks! I appreciate how encouraging you always are to my family and me. We are glad that you are in our lives Lauren!

    Josh, thanks Brother!

  4. I loved that first story from Jobs. The best stories are often the ones with the most disguised paths.

    As for the other guy, I don’t know about you but I hear a lot of fear and envy in his voice. Fear of losing losing relevancy and envy in knowing that the next step is not going to be taken by his side. There’s def a lot to pull from that video. Thanks for sharing.

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