Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder, ended his famous commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 with the words "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish."
This advice came from the back cover of the Whole Foods Catalogue final issue in 1974.
Accompanying a photograph of an early morning country road, it was the farewell message of the Whole Foods Catalogue team as they signed off their final issue, an encouragement to others to live out their adventures, even if they do eventually come to an end.
It's the kind of phrase that sits well with a company that grew from a single vision to the world's most valuable brand that we all know and love (well, a lot of people love) today.
I've been playing with the phrase in my head over the past few weeks and, while the technology greats are inspired by it, the advice doesn't quite sit right with me.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
The phrase is alluding to (I think) that you should never be satisfied with your work and always push yourself for the next big thing. You should always do (or be willing to keep trying) the things people say cannot be done, and then prove them wrong.
The reason I think it doesn't feel right to me is that I can see in my own life where I have been hungry and foolish, and made great things happen.
But now that I'm "established" and comfortable in my life, work and relationships, I'm not pushing myself as I once did. I'm paid well, enjoy my work, have a healthy work-life balance, but can see that perhaps I don’t stick to the same high standards or push myself as I used to.
I enjoy my life and want to keep achieving, but is there a trade off to be had between being comfortable and pushing yourself to new, greater things? Should we always strive to stay hungry, stay foolish? do we only have the option to settle on our merits when the going is good?
Instead of “stay hungry, stay foolish”, I’ve come up with a phrase that while doesn’t have the same ring, it feels better to me and fits with where my life is right now.
"Don't get too comfortable".
Generally, the greatest developments in life happen when you push yourself a little further than is comfortable. You have to go out of your comfort zone to learn new things and achieve greatness. You can be satisfied (not hungry) and smart (not foolish) to achieve those things.
There doesn’t have to be a trade off.
So I can be satisfied with my life, but always push myself to achieve more. I can be willing to keep trying the things people say cannot be done, but do it in a smart way.
I just shouldn’t settle on my merits or let comfort creep in.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Or, don't get too comfortable.
This article originally appeared in The Carrier, a monthly newspaper founded in 2012 as a way to send news to the people in our lives.