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”.

On Underlying Beliefs


 

 My instructor remarked in class that this was one aspect of learning that can be barely scratched on the surface through class work. It’s something one needs to continue to experience and explore.

Beliefs are like gnomes. They guard and control our thoughts and behaviour (like the ones in mythology which guarded  underground treasures). So we end up having the good gnomes which support our conscious behaviours to achieve set goals as opposed to the bad ones which skulk under the surface, unknown to us but ever ready to frustrate our well meaning thoughts and plans. These in fact constitute the major part of our underlying beliefs (UBs) – collected from our past, ingrained into our sub-conscious world, colouring our perceptions and driving many of our behaviours up the wrong street.

So how do we recognise these underlying beliefs and what do we do after that?

It stands to reason that if we are unable to control our behaviour, we would not achieve what we would like to do. This mostly happens when our behaviour, unknown to us, are moored to deep seated UBs. So however hard we try, we fail.  And we end up getting frustrated and giving up, without even realising what really happened.

The way forward is to become more aware of oneself. As we start doing this and consciously observe the way we think and act, we start understanding what drives our behaviours. What do we notice? Do we see gaps between what we “say” we believe in and what we really end up doing? If our answer is yes, than it’s time to identify and take stock of our underlying beliefs, determine which of them are preventing us from moving forward and then act to uproot them from our system.

And how does one do that? Which brings us to possibly the most critical step. Once we have identified our UBs, we need to bring them out into our conscious thoughts. As we examine our UBs consciously, we are more likely to find answers to, “Why we act the way we do?” With this we would be able to start to unlock the truths of what we truly believe in.

So every time we are faced with a challenging situation, we need to take a helicopter view from above to find out whether there are some underlying beliefs lurking beneath our behaviour and actions. Once we see the connections, we would be in a position to choose- what to retain and what to let go.