As I read through the many commentaries that accompanied Steve Jobs’ death, I realised how much this mortal man has contributed to the world of technology. He not only created Apple Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and the iPad but also Pixer – the world’s best animated studio.
This is no ordinary guy… he did what he has done without the backing of a good education, family background and initial financial backing.
Pixar has amazingly brought him more wealth (US$4 billion) than Apple (US$2 billion) as the world knew him more from his association with Apple than Pixar.
What actually made him so different from many other great men whom we knew? He did not have an extra brain or a third arm…but he is truly amazing as an individual and managed to stand out from the rest.
Steve is the epitome of the Great American Dream – someone who was poor, underpriviledged and yet set out to achieve what many only dare to dream. Without doubt, he has been a dreamer all along and that was probably what seperated him from the rest. He not only dreamed but took these lofty ideas to active frution.
It is obvious that Steve is also a visionary person with an eye on technological breakthroughs. He is not contented with the current trend and would go all out to invent new technological gadgets to make the world a better place!
My first impression when I knew about his death two days ago was: “So young!” He was only 56 years old when he died of pancreatic cancer – the diagnosis was made in 2005 and he also went through a liver transplant.
Nevertheless, after reading through all the commentaries that were written in his dedication, I realized it is not the length of one’s life that is important but what we have done with our life when we are still living.
This guy is not only entrepreneurial but also revolutionary. He wants to create stuff but more importantly he also has the vision to change the world. With his passing death, his name will live on forever – in history books and the technological toys that he has created. We will all eventually carry a little Apple with us – be it the iPhone, iPod or iPad.
I kept asking myself: “Can people still rememebr me after I have passed away?”
I learned much more from the way he responded to life’s calamities than the manner he kept on inventing new technological toys. For example, he was kicked out of Apple – even though he was one of the founders and only a year after he founded the Mac, and eventually went on to start Pixar, a first-ever animated studio. Though he was lost for a few months, he never let that experience affected him from moving on with his life.
I have five lessons to share after reading through Steve Jobs’ life journey:-
Follow after your dream
For example, he was dissatisfied with the PC Microsoft version and always felt that there is insufficient interface and graphics to go along with it.
I remembered learning Macintosh graphic packages fifteen years ago while at work and realized how much different it is from the dull Microsoft PC. It was sexy, sleek and stylish.
In the commencement speech he gave to the Stanford University graduates in year 2005, he told the newly-minted graduates how he gave up graduate school after six months and pursued after his dream.
This would never happen inSingaporeas going after a college degree seems to be the popular route to one’s dream. Many parents will even beg or steal to send their wards to a college degree.
Some of us may be better off without a degree as being an entrepreneur, one does not need more head knowledge but zeal to follow after one’s dream doggedly.
Moreover, when one acquires a degree, he will want to go look for a job – to justify his qualification worth and that he is a professional.
Steve subsequently gave up formal academic lessons and later took up other subjects that interest him – one of which helped him to develop the Apple Mac computer.
I shuddered when I imagined Steve going all the way to earn a degree. He would probably be looking for a job after graduation to justify his own worth as an employee and we may have lost a true blue entrepreneur.
He also told the graduates never to settle i.e. for second best. Always go after your dream and relentlessly pursue after it – even though the whole world is against you.
Many of us set up to do many things in life but few really zealously go after our dream and ideals. Real dreams take action and sometimes it can be tiring and tough.
Too many people give up easily on their dreams when there are barriers stack up in front of them. Sometimes, a little more persistence and patience is what we need to be successful.
I remembered starting a support group for men in 2008. I started it off with a friend but went into trouble as both of us have different approach and ideals for the support group.
Both of us eventually left and I was crestfallen for a while.
Nevertheless, I never let the incident hampered my desire to help those who are less fortunate and in need of assistance. I started Transitioning.org and the site took off rather well till today.
Do not let others get you down
After hemming Apples for ten years and inventing the Macintosh a year later, Steve was amazingly sacked from the company by the board.
He hung low for a few months and later founded Pixar – a first-ever animated company. The company made the movie Toy Story and revolutionized the whole movie industry.
I have received many emails from our readers here stating how badly treated they are treated by their companies.
Some were given the sack and could not see beyond their current problem. Naturally, many became angry and withdrawn.
There are also those who were given the divorce papers by their spouses to annul marriages. Many could not recover from the blow as it’s a stab to one’s self esteem and well being.
We all could perhaps learn a thing or two from Steve’s example. He was also adopted from young as his single mum gave him up but we all knew that this had not cause him to fall back on his dream.
Though he felt lost and bitter for a few months after the sack, he probably would have drawn up some plan for the future – given that he is a very visionary and articulate person.
Not one to get beaten down so easily, he went on to invent Pixar – probably fueleld by the earlier success he received from Apples.
More importantly, he managed to turn what that was seen as an adverse situation into his advantage. He was also a positive thinker and perhaps his years of having lived a troubled childhood (he was adopted), has taught him how to thrive in adversity.
If he was to stay on in Apple, Pixar would most likely not being founded and we will not enjoy the animated movies that we all love to watch.
Moreover, Steve never let a dreaded disease gets him down. He continued to work and eventually even managed to introduce iPad to the world two years ago.
Thus, if you are currently face with a adverse situation – maybe you knew that you have an incurable disease like Steve or your wife has just walked out on you, stop wallowing in self pity and start to ask yourself: “What can I do to stop feeling so mad about my situation and what can I do with my life right now?”
Always think ahead and not do not reflect back too much – life is too short for regrets and hanging on to past hurts.
Life is so short
I have also told my daughter recently that it is not the length of one’s life that is important but whether he has lived it well and with meaning.
She was aghast that I told her I am satisfied if I die at my father’s age which is 60 years old. That means I only have ten years to live on..
I believed that Steve thought the same too.
During the commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 and also the year that he knew he had cancer, Steve advocated living life to the fullest and not to live it fulfilling other people’s interest.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” he said, sounding as if the very thought of living someone else’s life infuriated him. “Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Many of us live our life fulfilling other people’s dreams.
For example, you may be studying a college degree picked by your parents as they wanted you to be a doctor or a lawyer.
You actually would prefer to study social work which is your interest.
Life is too short not to live it the way we want and one of the popular regret of most dying old people is that they did not fulfill their own dreams when they are young and capable. They were busy trying to fulfill other people’s ideals for their lives.
Imagine now that you are dying and you have only one year to live, what are the things that you wish you could do before you pass on?
You get the drift and now go pick up a pen and paper…
Never let the lack of education hampers you
I am one big culprit when it comes to letting the lack of education hampers me from doing the stuff that I wanted.
I must have repeated this quite often as one of my NSP colleague has chastised me recently saying that this ought not to be the case.
Steve never allowed his lack of a college degree to prevent him from thinking that he is not good enough to do monumental stuff that changed the world.
In fact, it pushed him even more as he is not confined by the frame work of academic achievement which is all head knowledge.
In paper-conscious Singapore, we all talk down on people who have no degree qualification or look in awe at those who are scholars or academically capable.
We spent time, effort and money to chase after a master’s or PhD degree knowing full well that sometimes it is what we need to fuel our ego.
I am glad that entrepreneurs do not need expensive graduate education to be successful.
He merely needs to be good in critical thinking, risk taking and sometimes a big heart, like Steve, to change the world.
How your life lives on after your death
Steve probably knew that his name will live on even though he is dead.
With so many technological new inventions associated with his name, he is probably one of the rare few in the world who could live on forever.
Moreover, whenever movie-goers see an animated film, I am sure that they will remember Steve Jobs.
So how can we live on like Steve after our death?
Not everyone can be a Steve Jobs – he is a rare personality and we may never have another Steve Jobs again.
However, we can be the person that we aspire to be by living our life to the best of our ability.
We can be the best dad to our kids, the wonderful husband to our wife and most responsible employee in the company.
In other words, we try our level best in all our endeavours and aspire to do something more for our community.
I always admired Mother Theresa and also bought a DVD to know more about her life story.
I knew that I would not be able to emulate her good works with the slumps atCalcuttaIndiabut her life inspired me to do something for the community.
That is the reason why I have dedicated my whole life three years ago to work with those who need a listening ear or shoulder to cry on.
I have no proper income, have lost my family doing it and probably have nothing much to retire on when I grow old.
Nevertheless, I felt satisfied with what I have done so far and like Steve, could say that I lived life to the fullest.
Rest well Steve – you deserve it and thanks for inventing the iPhone – it sure beats all other handphones that I have seen so far.
Written by: Gilbert Goh