Steve Jobs & The Gift of Embracing Your Limitations

June 26, 2023

Steve Jobs is one of the most essential figures of technological change in human history.

It is hard to underestimate how much the iPhone changed our world.

Apple, the company he helped found, hovers around a market cap of 3 trillion dollars.

Jobs also knew his limitations.

About a year before he died he sent this email to himself:

From: Steve Jobs

To: Steve Jobs


Date: September 2, 2010, 11:08 p.m.

I grow little of the food I eat, and of the little I do grow I did not breed or perfect the seeds.

I do not make any of my own clothing.

I speak a language I did not invent or refine.

I did not discover the mathematics I use.

I am protected by freedoms and laws I did not conceive of or legislate, and do not enforce or adjudicate.

I am moved by music I did not create myself.

When I needed medical attention, I was helpless to help myself survive.

I did not invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object oriented programming, or most of the technology I work with.

I love and admire my species, living and dead, and am totally dependent on them for my life and well being.

Sent from my iPad1

Even the most “successful” individuals are utterly dependent.

Knowing your limitations does not always have to be discouraging; in fact, this kind of self-awareness is a gift that increases gratitude and wisdom.

Why not make a limitations list for yourself?

When it comes to investing and financial decisions, here are a few:

  • I cannot control the stock market, and I should think twice before trying to guess it’s day-to-day direction with my investment behavior.
  • I do not know the future. The short term may be much worse or much better than I or the people I listen to think.
  • My gut feeling does not always know what’s best, wise, or true.
  • Inactivity is an action that has consequences. It is not just my actions that have produced regret in my life, but my inactions.
  • Some of the things I think right now I will think are foolish a decade from now. 
  • My understanding of the world is finite and biased. Therefore, I need good advice and counsel.
  • A limitless budget would not make me happy. True wealth is not governed by a monetary number.

 Embracing limitation is a strength not a weakness.

Now you go for it.