Steve Jobs, the man who more than anyone shaped the technological landscape we live in passed away on Wednesday.
Jobs was simply a superb man. A brand for the ages.
The word genius will be thrown around a lot about him, but that word genius misses the point.
Many people have genius, but few geniuses have the kind of flexibility, endurance and ability to admit wrong turns, face them and correct them.
That trait, which Jobs had in spades, translated directly to Apple’s success and Pixar’s --the kind of success that required meeting not only consumers’ needs again and again but even anticipating their dreams.
Jobs and Apple practiced almost a kind of symbiotic marketing –perceiving what consumers need almost before they knew and then delivering and then refining according to their consumers’ experience and input.
Whether it was at Pixar or at Apple, Jobs managed to add a touch of the poet into the laser-sharp dynamism of a great marketer and innovator.
That approach was a deep part of Jobs himself and the experiences that shaped him. Almost nothing gives us more to learn from as human beings than the words that he himself delivered as part of his commencement address to Stanford’s graduating class in 2005.
Here’s the complete text.
But I’d like to provide you with two especially good excerpts.
The first is Jobs’ reflection on being fired from Apple at age 30. He went from being on top of the world to feeling like he was finished. But then he realized that being fired was the best thing that had ever happened to him. It made him certain that he still loved doing what he had done at Apple and needed to continue doing that in his future.
This realization led him to eventually found Pixar and then make that triumphant return to Apple itself years later.
Here’s what Jobs says:
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.
I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.
You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and 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. Don't settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
The second excerpt is about using the fact of death as a positive –not a negative— to help you live the life you should be living. Here it is:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have 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?" And 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 to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Thank you for following your heart, Mr. Jobs. And thank you for helping us to follow ours.