Stuart R. Levine, Chairman and CEO, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC. Published in Forbes.

Continuous learning not only keeps you young, but provides a catapult for continuous growth, both personally and professionally. Learning from others is a common trait in successful value-driven leaders. Observing, listening, and ongoing communication, which can often be hard and challenging, is a creative, yet disciplined process that leads to the evolution of innovative outcomes.

What better way to learn about leadership than to also study the beliefs, actions and values of leaders who believed in this process and created companies that have influenced the world. Roger Milliken, former Chairman and CEO, Milliken & Company, a pioneer in global manufacturing, at the end of my first consulting day asked,” What are my people saying?” Listening and truly hearing others was the foundation for his learning and actions.

In my work with the CIO of one of the largest global telecommunications companies, he pushed me to learn about things that were completely out of my comfort zone. I understood two words out of ten in their team discussions. But I forced myself to learn. And he in turn learned about leadership and communication. Pushing yourself all day long is what’s required.

Steve Jobs,’ Apple Co-Founder, unrelenting focus was on beauty, loyalty ferocious curiosity, spirituality and wanting to be the best. I watched his graduation speech at Stanford University on June 12, 2005, over twenty times, and learned something new each time. Think differently and focus. This meant the iPad had to wait in favor of the iPhone. Steve Jobs had to narrow down what Apple could do from a strategic standpoint to only four things.

At the heart of everything he did, it was always about the customer, the end user, and ethics. They only hired people who wanted to “make the best things in the world.” And, he trusted his gut and the belief that following your heart, even if it’s off the beaten path, will lead you to making a difference and to where you want to go. Loving magnificent work and not settling was key for him. He led by example in making the best products, not the most. Taking pride in what you create, owning the customer experience and delighting people was his end goal.

Two current examples on each end of the spectrum come to mind. Take the recent debacle of Southwest Airlines travelers being stranded during the horrific holiday week. Leadership didn’t strategically focus on upgrading their technology systems, which would have enabled their crews to communicate their locations and ability to fly.  Profits were chosen over customers. 

Compare this to the Buffalo Bills supporting their teammate, Damar Hamlin, refusing to continue the game as a beloved member of their team was in critical condition. It was not play as normal and they followed their hearts, stating that football was not now the focus. The focus was on humanity, the survival of their brother and prayer for his survival. The players, coaches, fans, and National Football League’s leadership taught the world that appropriate actions are based on strong human values and beliefs.

Steve Jobs lived each day as if it were his last. If each day were not how he would like to be his last, he changed it. Having this perspective creates a true barometer for measuring whether you’re on the right path. Getting rid of toxic people, who don’t share your values, is essential to living each day to the fullest.

Ethics were a great part of who Steve Jobs was. After his company became stable, his focus was never about earnings. It was always about doing the right thing, with an overarching focus on humanity. Here’s what he believed: Don’t lead someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Creating memories strengthened by love was his revelation at the end. His advice was to treasure your family, love your spouse and love your friends. Treat everyone well, including your neighbors! Now how’s that for end-of-life “surprising” words, from one of this century’s most incredible geniuses.

Steve Jobs’s very last words, as shared by Steve’s sister, Mona Simpson, were: ‘Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow’. These words certainly provide hope that there is something remarkable after life on this planet. But in the meantime, let’s all strive to be the best we can be, based on values, courage and trusting our instincts to act and live accordingly.