History has many inspirational heroes who have motivated and influenced us. Their thoughts, values and achievements in the face of adversity and their indomitable spirit is a source of inspiration to many. It is difficult to just handpick a few inspirational people who we can look up to as ideals; however, the ones that I have picked up here will definitely make any list of people who have and can inspire generations.
Steve Jobs – The Innovator
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” – Steve Jobs.
Steven Paul Jobs, more popularly known as Steve Jobs, was a ‘genius’. Born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California, he was given up for adoption and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He never graduated from college although he did join Reed College but quit soon after.
He was the Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc., a multinational corporation designing, developing, and selling consumer electronics, computer software and personal computers, the Co-founder and CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, one of the most successful animation studio in the world, and the Founder and CEO of NeXT Inc., a computer platform development company specializing in higher education and business markets. He was unceremoniously ‘removed’ from Apple in 1985, but returned in 1998 to inspire the company, always admired but never truly successful, to its greatest heights. His second coming saw the introduction, by Apple, of a host of winning products including the initial, colourful iMacs, the iPod, the iPad and the iPhone.
He has been an inspiration to many as an innovator in the digital age.
So, what is it that gave Steve Jobs that extra spunk and zeal? The best answer lies in his Stanford University Commencement address, delivered on June 12, 2005.
He told the audience three stories from his life, and imparted his biggest learning experiences, the crux of which he summed up as:
1. “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
2. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
3. “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. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
An entrepreneur and an innovator, Jobs received a number of honours and public recognition for his influence in the technology industry. Steve Jobs died at the age of 56 on October 5, 2011 from pancreatic cancer.
Jesse Owens – The Athlete
“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.” – Jesse Owens.
James Cleveland Owens, popularly known as Jesse Owens, was an Olympic legend. He was an American track and field athlete who specialised in sprints and the long jump and was nicknamed ‘The Buckeye Bullet’.
Born on September 12, 1913, he was the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave. Not surprisingly, the path had been tough for this African-American athlete. He spent much of his early childhood working in the cotton fields and shoe-shining in Alabama. He mixed studies with work shifts working in an elevator at an office building.
His athletic career began in 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he set Junior High School records by clearing 6 feet in the high jump, and leaping 22 feet 11 ¾ inches in the broad jump. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin made him the best remembered athlete in Olympic history.
Eventually, Owens was recognised as the inspirational figure he is. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1976, the highest civilian honour in the US, and deservedly so. He died at age 66 on March 31, 1980 in Tucson, Arizona due to lung cancer.
Mother Teresa – The Saint
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa.
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, later known as Mother Teresa, was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, in the former Yugoslavia.
She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland as a missionary.
On September 10, 1946, Teresa experienced what she later described as “the call within the call” while travelling by train to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat.
She began her missionary work with the poor in 1948 by establishing the Missionaries of Charity Sisters, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”
On October 7, 1950, the new congregation of ‘Missionaries of Charity’ was officially established in Calcutta. The congregation soon began to grow and by the 1960s had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses all over India and later across the globe in Venezuela, Rome, Tanzania, and Austria.
Mother Teresa’s entire life was dedicated to the joy of loving and respecting the greatness and dignity of every human person and her love and faithfulness to God. She died on September 5, 1997, but continues to live on in the hearts of people. Deservedly, she was immortalised through museums, structures and roads, named in her memory.