Steve Jobs’ Real Legacy – Teaching Us to Live Passionately
Steve Jobs created fantastic products, but his most important legacy is how he lived his life. He found what he loved to do and did it passionately. Here, I dive into his “Think Different” philosophy, “12 Steve Jobs Lessons for Us All”, and his “Stanford Commencement Speech” to share the golden nuggets of his life, so that you can live yours better. (Watch)
I’M LETTING the death of Steve Jobs pull me out of my rabbit hole, the proverbial place I’ve been dwelling these past several weeks.
I’ve waited these few weeks since his passing to contemplate what his life stood for and meant to us. I’m not referring to the obviously wonderful products he helped create, but the philosophy and action behind such creations.
You might be delighted by an iPhone, iPod or iPad, and it might make your life marginally better, but my focus here is the stuff that can really make you live large, however you define that.
Given all that’s been written about Jobs since his death, it ‘s well-known to you that he was a proponent and supreme example of “doing what you love”. He once said:
“People with passion can change the world for the better.”
To the would-be entrepreneurs, he said:
“I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.”
To Jobs, you had to love what you’re doing to be passionate enough about doing it to make your life worthwhile.
How to Find What You Love?
It’s hard to argue with Job’s assertion about how important it is to do what you love so that you can live your life with passion. Most everyone I know though says, “How can you find what you love to do”?
That, certainly, is my issue too.
So, I contemplated this and then sat down and did an exercise I’d like to share. Perhaps it can get you one step closer to finding what you would love t do.
First, I found a place where nothing could interrupt me for two hours. I took out a piece of paper and made two columns, one headed by “Interests”, the other by “Skills”. I then free associated, discounting nothing that popped up in my head until I had many items in each column. I wasn’t concerned if an item could be discerned as both a skill and an interest.
Next, I asked myself the question:
“What would I love to do daily utilizing both my skills and interests that would add value to others?
Note that there’s no question about money. Implicit in this concept is that if you passionately do what you love, the money will follow, at least enough for you to feel your life is well lived.
I came up with various scenarios, most, frankly, already known to me, but some that were surprising. What became obvious is that even if you accurately answer the question about what you’d love to do, there’s another formidable challenge to transcend — the inertia that keeps you where you are!
Like the hamster on a treadmill… expending energy that gets you nowhere you wish to go.
Steve Jobs’ 12 Lessons for Us All
In order to prod you to take some action to go deeper into this topic of finding what you love, doing it passionately and living your life to the fullest, let’s delve into Steve Jobs “12 Lessons for Us All”, as interpreted by Brent Arends here.
Know that I’ve largely reinterpreted, or modified Mr. Arends insights – his are quoted; mine are not. Certainly, read Mr. Arends full article.
1. Yes, you can make a difference
The road to make real change is peppered with land mines dug by doubters and naysayers. You have to overcome this and stay true to your belief in self, while recognizing that rarely is anything significant achieved entirely alone, but as Jobs proved, one person can make a huge difference.
2. You need a vision
Opinion polls, customer surveys, and consultants are typically based on conventional wisdom build by what was. If you’re going to do what hasn’t been done before, you need a vision that is not built on yesterday’s tenants. “While Jobs competitors were still building the products of yesterday, he was imagining, and building those of tomorrow.”
3. It’s not about you
Although it begins with you as you ponder what to do, once on track the focus needs to be on the customer, or whomever your actions will impact. “Jobs built Apple into a streamlined operation, focused on the output, nothing else”.
4. Focus, focus, focus
Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. You can be so busy that you don’t have time to breathe, yet may not be reaching any goals. The focus must be on achieving the desired result, not incessantly consumed with the process. “One of the first things [Jobs] did was ax about 90% of the company’s activities and focus — first on the iMac, then on the iPod”.
5. ‘OK’ is not OK
“Look at the way Apple’s competitors keep putting out mediocre or unfinished products and thinking they’ll get away with it. Are they for real? The days when you could get by with second best are so over. Jobs was famous for a fanatical perfectionism. It was a core element of Apple’s success.”
6. It’s not about the money
“Steve Jobs’ life was a thumping rebuttal to all those who are obsessed with cash. The guy had billions: far more than he could ever spend, even if he had lived to 100. Yet he kept working, and striving to do greater things. Money? Bah. Something to think about the next time a CEO demands another $20 million a year as an incentive to show up.” Certainly, one reason for this is that the man was doing what he loved to do, not doing it for the paycheck.
7. It ain’t over till it’s over
“Fifteen years ago Steve Jobs appeared to be a has-been in Silicon Valley. And Apple was circling the drain: plagued with losses, executive turnover, reorganizations, desperate asset sales and research cuts. Apple’s stock hit a low of $3.23 in 1996, and hardly anyone wanted it even at that price.” Again, if you need to reinvent yourself or your situation, make it happen by applying yourself in an area that you love, that makes work, play.
8. Give people what they really want
“Sounds obvious, right? But most companies don’t do it. They simply produce what they’ve always produced, or what’s comfortable. For years the computer industry churned out ugly, clunky beige products with complicated operating systems. They all did it, and they all assumed that’s what people wanted. Turns out it wasn’t at all.”
9. Destroy your own products — before someone else does
“Jobs made sure that Apple kept innovating, and rendering its own products obsolete. Creative destruction came from within! That’s why Apple is a $354 billion company, and, say, Palm has vanished from Earth, even though a 2004 iPod is just as out of date as a 2004 Treo. How rare is this? Jobs knew full well that his $500 iPad threatens to cannibalize sales of $1,000 laptops. But he moved forward nonetheless. Most companies wouldn’t.”
10. We are all spin doctors now
“Critics point out that a lot of what Jobs achieved at Apple was put down to hype and hustle. But that was the point. And Jobs was a master at it — the product teasers, the showmanship on stage, even the black turtlenecks. Truth be told, we live in a superficial age of infinite media. We are all in the spin business. Deal with it.” I depart from Mr Arends here, as I would say that it’s not “hype and hustle” if you deliver what you say you will, as Jobs did.
11. Most people don’t know what they’re doing
“It takes nothing away from Steve Jobs to point out that he couldn’t have done it without his competitors. Microsoft, Palm, Nokia, Dell, H-P — the list goes on. They missed opportunities, stayed complacent, failed to innovate and generally mishandled the ways their industries changed. It’s normal to assume that the people around us — and in power — know what they are doing. As Jobs proved, they often don’t.”
12. Your time is precious — don’t waste it
Steve Jobs was just 56 when he died — a comparatively young man — and yet during his short spell on Earth he revolutionized the way we live, several times over. What are we doing with our time? It is the resource we waste the most — and it’s the one we cannot buy. Make the most of your short spell on this planet. Make each day and hour count.”
As Jobs said even before he knew that his cancer was terminal:
“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,” he told Stanford graduates in a 2005 commencement address.
If you haven’t viewed Steve Job’s “Stanford Commencement Speech”, you might want to learn why over 12 million others (so far) did. And with that, I bid you adieu.