Steve Jobs is one of the few actual visionaries that we have had a chance as a society to watch close up. He was open enough to allow us to see his successes and failures. It was Warren Buffett who said that he spent very little time looking at companies that do well in the short term because of what he calls dumb luck. No one who looks at what Steve Jobs accomplished in his lifetime would call it dumb luck and I use the term his life and not Apple because he would likely have achieved these goals without regard to the culture he was in because he created that culture.
Steve Job was big on street skills. This was not a polished executive, he was rather someone who got things done in any way possible. Does anyone really think the iPad was the result of a polished and reasonable approach to business? This was a product that no one knew they needed and now cannot live without. This is a product that has encouraged no end of copy cats and wannabes’, some better than others.
Here are 7 concepts Jobs viewed as critical in the world of success. I would love to hear your thoughts after you read them…
- You have not failed enough. Mediocrity can be very comfortable and mediocrity happens when you don’t try. It’s easier to talk about doing something than it is to do it. While many sat around and were afraid to try he spent his time failing as fast as he could. He failed so he could learn and then make adjustments.
- You are held back because you care what others think about you. People want to fit in and many believe that being different is only cool if you are different in the same way that everyone else is different. Jobs invested in himself and cared little what the world thought of him. What other Fortune 100 executive would open an annual convention is a ragged sweatshirt and a 3 day growth of facial care. He focused on what mattered.
- You think you are smarter than you actually are. Jobs spent precious little time worrying about how to pass societal tests. He knew that most learning happened outside of school. He studied life and learned by living. He paid attention. He knew that smart is not what you know it’s how you live. He knew that the tests of life and business aren’t graded on a bell curve or based on a percentage, they are based on survival!
- You don’t read enough. Most people read no more than the required stuff, if anything at all. Many think history is boring and philosophy is stupid. Many watch Colbert or CNN to get their news. Few respect that all the power in the world comes from those that preceded us. Instead of spending your time learning about a football team or a movie star, attempt to better understand the world around you. At all times remember that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him think!
- You are not curious enough. Are you getting your news from Yahoo or some other form of mass media? Ever consider that what they are telling you could be a lie or just a nice distraction? Jobs thirsted for knowledge. While other people were playing video games he spent his time learning about Quantum Mechanics or how to make a beautiful dollhouse. If you went into a debate with him on any topic he could crush you because he learned multiple topics from several angles and used that information against opponents. Jobs was dedicated to seeing and learning both sides of every argument.
- You don’t ask enough questions. Jobs questioned authority and as a result he questioned himself. He knew that asking a question and them letting them talk gave him enough information to destroy them when need be. He knew that control comes from structuring the context of questions and then asking more. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it built an empire!
- You can’t handle the truth. People refuse to admit that they don’t know what they don’t know… And in most cases they don’t! If most people knew that everything would be different tomorrow they would wait until then to do anything about it. Even when other didn’t think so, he was aware of his surroundings. Many people walk around with their head up their ass, oblivious to the world around them and he knew how much fun the truth actually is. He understood understanding and knew that the only thing holding him back from the truly amazing was himself.
Steve Jobs often said that death was one of the greatest and least appreciated aspects of life. Death places a time limit and encourages urgency. What could you accomplish with these seven ideas from a true visionary?