I’m not sure where I first found this video clip from Steve Jobs back in the 90’s, but it’s one of those things that really changed the way I look at the world.

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” -Steve Jobs

Once that idea really sunk in, a bunch of things about life, my job, and my career made so much more sense to me.

You see, up until that point, I had this notion that everyone else somehow knew better than me about all this stuff. That they were right and somehow all of a sudden I was wrong. Until I realized…

Everyone Is Just Making It Up As They Go!

All the rules, standards, ideas, behaviors, etc. It’s all been made up by other people pretending (or believing) that they know what they are doing.

It’s like, do you remember when you were a kid and say around age 8 or 10 you started to want to be an adult and do all the grown up things? And they sort of wouldn’t let you?

And then time passes and by some virtue of being older (even if not wiser or smarter), you are supposed to be an adult. Yet, you still might feel the same as you did when you were much younger?

There Is No Magic Moment When You “Become” An Adult.

At some point, you just are “an adult” and then people who are following a bunch of rules made up by other people and handed down through the ages start treating you as such.

It’s as if someone decided that age or height was the only thing that determined maturity, responsibility, useful skills, or intelligence. Which on the face of it is rather bizarre.

I mean, think about how strange it is that educators know that students learn different things at vastly different rates, and then organize schools based on age (which is not so different than basing learning on height).

Who Made Up That Rule? It Doesn’t Make Any Sense!

And that’s just one example.

All of these rules and ideas and structures are made up. Which means they can be changed. Which means they can be tweaked and molded and poked at.

As Steve Jobs said, it can all be made better. We have the power to redesign all of it.

That Was A Big Breakthrough Idea For Me

Years later I started remaking my own sort of rules about work and my career. I found that I work better remotely, so I managed to rearrange the rules to find a remote work arrangement. I wanted to get paid better, so I figured out how to do that too.

Now I’m on a quest to take my career and life into an even more interesting place (for me anyway). Eventually that might mean running my own little company and making up my own rules. That might be many, many years away but I can see what I’d like to change and how I’d like to change it.

My rules for my life and career are not necessarily better for everyone else, but they are better for me.

And that’s the whole point. Everything is negotiable, so get good at negotiating!

That changed everything for me. Thanks Steve!