The Ballad of Steve Jobs- What take-aways?



Steve Jobs is no more. An icon of our times passes on. Gigabytes of eulogies, outpourings and videos are all that remain to remind us of him.

As I sit on the keyboard, I wonder what is it that compels me to add my own tuppence about the Man. I did not know him personally. I have never met him. My only connections are two devices that I own- an IPod and an ITouch. But wait! There surely must be some other connection. I revisit the video of his Commencement Address at the Stanford University Graduation Ceremony delivered six years back. And I see myself clapping in front of the monitor as the last video frame fades out.

I set out to determine what really made the man. Not what I could draw inspiration from. But more a curiosity about what made Steve tick, what were those inner moorings that made him go on the path that he did.

To conform to the expectations of his foster parents (who had adopted him at birth), Steve went to college but dropped out soon after since as he himself put it, “I saw no value in it”. Clearly Steve’s values and associated beliefs lay elsewhere. Which brings us to our Lesson number One. That no matter how hard you try to achieve goals set by other people, you are bound to  under-perform or fail if they are not aligned with your passion, your own underlying beliefs.

Even after dropping out of college, Steve continued to attend classes where his interest and curiosity lay. It was then that he did a course in Calligraphy, something which his heart proposed rather than his mind. Steve goes on to tell us how years later, he could use this competence to build beautiful typography into the MAC computer.So Lesson number Two. Listening to your heart is listening to your inner values and beliefs. And this unleashes high energy, great feelings and ultimately terrific results. To use Steve’s expression, “…. when I look back in life, I can see unrelated dots connecting…” This is the power of positive beliefs.

Steve believed that getting fired from Apple, the company that he created, was the best thing that happened to him. The event allowed him to gain awareness of his own self on a much higher plane. It also allowed him a deeper understanding of two other aspects about himself.

One, having become a hugely successful entrepreneur at a young age, Steve developed damaging inner beliefs like, “My creative passion is essential for the organisation, I know best etc”. These led to the display of negative behaviours of arrogance, overbearing know-all attitudes etc. Clearly this was not conducive to organisational harmony and development. As Steve himself puts it, “sometimes life hits you on the head with a brick” to bring you back to your roots- your values and passion.

Second, his getting fired allowed him  to positively confront and overcome his self doubts of  “not being good enough”, to face  his fear of “ being perceived as a public failure” which almost made him “ run away from the valley”.

As he fought pancreatic cancer, Steve acknowledged that a constant awareness of death allowed him to powerfully clarify his priorities and make the big choices in life. As he remarked, “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. ”

What a fantastic shift in perspective! Such self awareness surely has the power to change our beliefs and thoughts and become a powerful driver of behaviour change harnessed for great forward motion and success. Are we willing to take the baton and move forward? Are we ready to re-unleash the requisite creative energy and passion for the NEXT- PIXAR? And this remains our final lesson number three.

As Steve remarked, “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

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