Your Time is limited, Don’t waste it Living Someone’s Life – Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

Posted on Posted in Quote Of The Day

Steve Jobs Quote: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
Quote of the day March 22, 2016

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.. Stay Hungry Stay Foolish”

Steve Jobs

We love this quote for a lot of reasons. The way I see it, the quote has two parts

  • Living life by someone else’s standards and goals
  • Staying Dissatisfied – stay hungry stay foolish

And as a quote critic, we love both those aspects and would like to take them one by one

Living someone’s life:

I think this is one thing we have debated over and over again on this site, especially in our posts about society and living by its standards. We have more about it in our post on 12 inspiring quotes about society and its meaning. The central message for us however remains the same. If we look at the society at large, it is made of a certain set of rules about your education, the kind of clothes you need to wear, the way you need to behave and so on.

At one end, we understand and appreciate the rules of the society because we don’t want to hurt it too much. On the other, it does force us to conform to its rules, aspirations and goals. Any outlier is severely targeted and shunned and sometimes even eliminated by ostracising them. It is done just to protect itself from any new changes which it doesn’t understand – logical enough.

To Be or Not To Be:

However, at some stage we need to put ourselves a little ahead and think what is more important to us – is it just the society, the way it feels about us or what we want to do with our lives. I largely agree to Steve Jobs thoughts here when he says – your time is way too limited in this world. It is hard enough that we have our own set of aspirations and standards and try to live by those. Added to that, the expectations of the society become a little too much.

At one stage, I guess we all have to learn the art of being distant from the society by being a part of it. Indian philosophy makes a very good comparison with the stalk of a lotus which is very much a part of the water around it but doesn’t let it affect it or make it soft. It is being different and yet being a part of the environment. I do understand that it is a tough ordeal to live by, but a great metaphor and ideal to start focusing ourselves toward.

Stay Hungry:

The quote stay hungry stay foolish at first seems a bit different from the first part. To be honest, I am not too sure if I am completely convinced if it is an integral part of the quote. But we shall try and analyse it by treating as such. I like the part of staying hungry – it is an image of constant hunger, the desire to do something, the desire to aspire for a higher goal or value, the desire to reach an elevated stage of life as compared to where we are today. We are not suggesting that we should not be satisfied with what we do, we do not want to strive for higher standards by compromising our happiness. But we do want to live for the highest standards in life.

Stay Foolish:

Now this serves as the most important aspect of the quote for me. I can stay hungry, but why do I have to stay foolish?

Then again I wonder about the context in which he has used “stay foolish” when he says stay hungry stay foolish. Maybe it is just a way to say that sometimes it is worth to be a intellectually a little foolish to ask the silly questions which most of them take granted. Maybe it is about asking “Why” and “How” and most importantly “Why Not” when most people seem to go along with the rules. It might be about being the black sheep in the society who wants to do something different without being afraid of being an outcast. It might be about living up to what you think is right even though it means you can be wrong at times.

I guess that is what Jobs meant when he said stay hungry stay foolish.

These were pretty much our thoughts as the quote critic to understand what the quote means. Of course this post is never complete without your views and thoughts as to what it means to each of us. Please do share your views and we would love a nice debate on it.

Stay hungry stay foolish 😉

Suggestions based on our readers comments:

Jyothi D’mello

I think it was a wonderful reminder about the Stanford commencement speech. A short 14 minute video by Steve Jobs talking about connecting the dots which I think is an extremely powerful one which makes us think. Sharing the link to the video below:


11 thoughts on “Your Time is limited, Don’t waste it Living Someone’s Life – Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

  1. I never return empty handed from here 🙂 for me why at all would society matter it’s about inner peace and thus self matters most 🙂

    1. Thank you Shweta, hope you are doing good. Congratulations on the launch of your youtube channel – I am sure it will do great.

      Inner peace – very true. It is a very impressive thing to achieve and find that satisfaction within. Although we are in a constant turmoil and bombarded by so many things around us, trying to find this can be of incredible help for us to live life at its fullest 🙂

  2. I don’t think any one human can survive totally isolated in the social system we have built over centuries. The support as it were is needed. That said, it is possible to carve out one’s own path by fulfilling a need of the world around us. If you can do that, society will leave you alone to be yourself. Isn’t that the Steve Jobs story in a nutshell and one that explains the quote as well?

    1. A very interesting thought Lata. We certainly are social beings and cannot survive without the society. It becomes an integral part of our living. I guess co-existence is one word which perhaps describes the society and our relationship very well. I like when you say – carve out one’s own path by fulfilling a need of the world around us – a fine way to achieve balance between the intrinsic and external world. It will be a fantastic thing to do. It reminds me a beautiful poetry from one of the kannada texts which said – “Nimmodaniddoo nimmantaagade” meaning being with you but being independent of you.

      You are right, that is Steve Jobs quote in a nutshell. If we are able to create that demarcation, the society will respect and appreciate what we are up to and will provide sufficient opportunity for us to establish ourselves.

      Thank you for the thoughts Lata, it’s awesome to spark a conversation like this, adds a lot of richness to the quotes 🙂

  3. At the beginning I was quite confused with the “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” part but your explanation made me sorted. 🙂 Another thoughtful quote from you Vinay! 🙂

    1. Thank you Maitreni, this quote remains to be one of my favourite of all times. I think the very essence of it is beautiful. I even read Rashmi Bansal’s compilation of stay hungry stay foolish which I found was an interesting book to check out. It is a good collection with the stories of some entrepreneurs who have made it big in life and fit very well into the description of stay hungry stay foolish.

  4. I think by ‘staying hungry’ he means the hunger for more knowledge and success. The insatiable nature that sparks the way to discover new things. You’ve explained it rightly… 🙂

    1. THank you Maniparna, I think so too. The hunger for knowledge, success and the aspiration it brings can make a hell lot of a difference. Someone once said that the worst thing to happen in the world is when your dreams are a 100% fulfilled and you don’t have anything else to do. But knowing that life can be worth so much is a brilliant experience indeed and hunger sure can make a lot of impossible things turn around.

  5. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish was the farewell message by “The Whole Earth Catalog” on their final issue (1970’s). Steve Jobs had read it first there and then during his speech at the Stanford University in 2005, he spoke about this magazine and asked the students present to Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. You interpretation is bang on. The complete Commencement address is a great read.

    1. That’s very interesting Jyothi. I was not aware of the whole earth catalog. I would love to read that, if you have a link, kindly do share it, I am sure our readers will benefit from it.

      Even I loved the Stanford speech, the first 7 mins or so leaves you completely spell bound. Since you mention the commencement speech, I am sharing the video link of it:

      Great inspiration indeed.

    2. Thanks to you, I have updated the post with the commencement address. If you could please share the whole earth catalog if you find, I would love to share that as well on the main post.

      Thank you Jyothi 🙂

We would love to hear your point of view