Executive Careers Blog

Lead and Live Like Steve Jobs

“Is bad news coming to you regularly?” asks a recent business article about CEOs.

Although I’m not a CEO—which itself seems like bad news—I nod yes.

“Good,” continues the article. “That’s a sign of success. There’s plenty of bad news out there, the only question is whether you’re aware of it.”

I’m aware of it.

But some days it's hard to face reality.

I read about a monastery that tried to do something about that. When the monks passed each other in the hallway, they’d say, “Remember Brother, you are going to die.”

That’s less cheerful than "Good morning," so this greeting is unlikely to become wildly popular.

If someone told me I was about to die—I'm highly suggestible—I'd immediately spring to life and jump into the nearest ambulance.

Still, I admire the paradoxical intent: by facing impermanence, daily, you deepen your appreciation for everyday life.

That's what Steve Jobs believed. "Remembering that you are going to die," he said, "is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."

We mourn his loss.

Consultant, author, speaker, and founder of express potential® (  Paul Hellman has worked with CEOs, executives, and managers at leading companies for over 25 years to improve performance and productivity at work. His latest book is “Naked at Work: How to Stay Sane When Your Job Drives You Crazy,” and his columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other leading papers.

Comments?  Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com

Related Tags