I'm sure a lot of us have seen this but I think one of the most open and meaningful discourses I've heard Steve deliver was his Stanford commencement address in which he discusses the topic of death:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA
"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, karma, whatever because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path.
Sometimes life's gonna hit you in the head with a brick - don't lose faith. You've got to find what you love. 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 and don't settle.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went some thing like 'if you live each day as if it was your last, some day you'll most certainly be right'. It made an impression on me and since then for the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? Whenever the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. 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 of avoiding the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked, there is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumour on my pancreas. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable and that I should expect to live no longer than 3-6 months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for 'prepare to die'. It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to say your goodbyes.
My wife who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope, the doctor started crying because it turned out to be a rare form of pancreatic cancer that was curable with surgery. I had the surgery and thankfully I'm fine now. This was the closest I've been to facing death and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades.
Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept. No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there and yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it and that is as it should be because death is very likely the single, best invention of life. It is life's change-agent, it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. 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. Stay hungry, stay foolish."
Whether or not Steve's current leave of absence is serious, one day the inevitable will happen. What he leaves behind won't be a cool phone, tablet or computer but an example of what it takes to make those changes happen. It's there for anyone and everyone to use as a guide.
When you brush away all the technology, what's left is important. Do it with Microsoft and you get an empty space where technology used to be. With Apple, you get a reason why the technology is there and why it's built the way it is. Steve Jobs's life doesn't deserve to be valued by a stock ticker, no one's does because the shareholders aren't the ones holding onto them when they need it most.
He's clearly doing what he loves at Apple so I'd expect him to continue there as long as he can but there's no sense in placing such heavy importance on him doing so.