I’ve recently finished reading Steve Jobs’ biography, written by Walter Isaacson.
It felt like quite a lengthy biography, though I guess all biographies are quite long, it is, after all, a person’s life we’re talking about!
After finishing this rather lengthy biography, I thought to myself, at first, “This was a total waste of time”. I felt like Jobs was not exactly a worthy role model.
His anger tantrums, lack of respect for people, and many other “lovely” qualities, could only be matched by his genius ability to turn crap into gold. To take something which is, at most, decent, and turn it into something amazing.
So when I spoke to my friends right after I finished reading it, my feedback was quite utterly negative.
But then, I had a sudden revelation, and I now consider this biography to be one of the most influential books I’ve read in my life.
Jobs wasn’t too good with people. But it wasn’t because he didn’t understand people. On the contrary, he was a master manipulator. He knew exactly what made people tick, how to take advantage of them and how to use them in order to make extraordinary things. He simply chose to not give a damn, and do whatever the heck he wants. And, well.. it worked.
Steve jobs was a man with a mission. He wanted to make a difference, to give people something extraordinary, to revolutionize entire industries, and in a sense, he did. He made it, big time.
He was able to complete his mission by being ruthless. By taking everything he and his employees did to perfection, not for the money, but for the sake of making things amazing, and giving people an extraordinary experience.
Now, did that success come at a price? Definitely.
But, how many times have you done that?
How many times have you given the world something amazing? revolutionized entire industries? Took something which was mediocre at best and turned it into something which you can’t live without?
So it made me rethink about his biography and his legacy, and now I have enormous admiration of what he did (although not for his humane values).
I do not want to make this article too lengthy and bothersome.
Although I can write many pages about what he did, and my particular thoughts about certain stories shared in his biography, I prefer not to, because I want to convey a message (and If it rings a bell, you may want to get his biography and read it for yourself).
That message is, that people have succumbed to mediocrity.
Amazing, extraordinary things are pretty hard to come by (we have plenty of mediocre-decent things).
And I believe the reason for that, is that we live in a world that demands instant gratification. No one wants to work hard, no one wants to figure out the tiny details, especially if it takes enormous amounts of time and effort. People just want to “have fun”, which is a worthy goal, but it is also an empty one. Perfection also has it’s price – long hours at work, resisting the urge to conform and just be like everyone else, and in jobs’ case, health.
Perfection and leaving a legacy in this world, comes at a price.
But what is that price?
And Is Steve Jobs’ almost “malevolent” ways the only route to success?
I believe not. I believe that one can be generous and kind, and lead by personal example and positive reinforcement.
But hard work is an essential requirement. You can’t make a true, significant, lasting difference on this planet if you plan to lead a 4 hour work week (Tim Ferris “works” a lot more than 4 hours a week, he simply enjoys it and doesn’t consider it to be work, which is actually a pretty good mindset to adapt).
“If you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth, but you gotta’ be willing to take the hits…” – Rocky Balboa
Steve Jobs made a difference. He creating amazing things and revolutionized entire industries. He may not have been the kindest person, but he made it work, he made people work, and you gotta give it to him.
You too could make and do amazing things, all the while being a person with good values. But you’ve got to be willing to take the “hits”, and work hard, real hard.
You’ve got to make work your passion, your mission. That is the only way to truly make a difference.
I’ll finish with this wonderful quote taken from Jobs’ famous speech in Stanford:
“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”.