In 2005 Steve Jobs gave the commencement speech at Stamford University. In commencement speeches the speaker traditionally passes on some wisdom for life that will help the graduating students commence the next phase of their life. Steve Jobs spoke about three things and one of them was death.

He described going to a doctor’s appointment in 2004 and being told he had pancreatic cancer and had just 3-6 months to live. It was devastating news.

Later the same evening he had further tests that revealed he had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that could be treated with surgery. He had the surgery and lived for another seven years before the cancer returned to claim his life.

During that 2005 speech at Stamford Jobs spoke of the importance of death.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.