Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011 Advice to those "New" before clearing the "Old"

The first photo is by Aaron Miletich taken Oct 5, early morning, at Apple campus.  The second one, at Pixar, is by gromitgirl / Maryann, taken with her iPhone, "Moments after news broke..."

   Steve Jobs' Greatest Achievements

Steve Jobs Through the Years

Storify's Honoring a legend

The Apple I, 1976, built with Steve Wozniak and also industry vet Ronald Wayne, there for "adult supervision."

That first Apple, by the way was $666.66, and those buying one still had to provide their own keyboard, monitor and power supply :-).

Two of the stories are from, which, at the main site URL tonight, has a special, striking screen for this story as does the Apple site memorium page, with no gadget images in sight, and just the words about a life that had been the foundation of that company and which has had such an effect on much of the world.  It's not just materialism, as some will say - it's what can be done with technology, and there's something to be said for creating products that have brought so much good feeling to those who use them, much of it educational and yet fun.  I saw tweets from tcarmody of Wired and from LoveThatMax that their children use devices invented by Steve Jobs to communicate, to "talk" as Carmody put it -- apps on the iPod Touch and iPad.

I first heard the news at the end of a local ABC Channel 7 news segment, delivered in conversational tones, with an almost question-mark delivery as if maybe it wasn't so, and although the world knew he had resigned because he felt 'the time had come,' the actual end of his life struck me as impossible, probably because of the force of his energy.  The will to excellence and beauty in design and function seemed more a generalized drive that couldn't be stopped just like that.

  Although I wasn't a fan of some of his ways with normally imperfect people or rival companies, I admired all that he'd accomplished.  He really was so much larger than life as the cliche goes, that I found myself really shocked that he suddenly could just not "be" anymore.  That's what I mean by an impossibility.  It really got to me.

As for his drive toward quality and doing what you love, making the best of the short time we all have here, I first saw, at Wired, some of the words from his Commencement Speech to Stanford graduates in 2005 and then saw TV coverage on it, and after that, Nick Bilton's well-chosen passages from the speech, on a special webpage with that amazing monochrome image of Jobs.   I'm putting some excerpts here, adding a few from the transcript, and here is a link to the video of that speech.

' ...I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.  It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
. . .
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.

[On Death]
. . . . 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.
. . .
No one wants to die.  Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there.  And yet death is the destination we all share.  No one has ever escaped it.

And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.  It is Life's change agent.  It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.  Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.  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.'

I also enjoyed some interesting visual reminders, from Mike Cane's site, of why Jobs made such an impact, with some "firsts."

  And I thought Cane's quote from George Bernard Shaw summed it up well:
' The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. '

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  1. Cain remarks, quoting Shaw: "'The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.'"

    That quote comes from Shaw's "Man and Superman," which should give you some hint of its real meaning. Most of the horrors of the twentieth century were committed by unreasonable men, each of whom tried "to adapt the world to himself" in the pursuit of what he considered "progress." Most had no trouble attracting millions of well-educated followers. Stalin grew so disgusted with their pilgrimages to the Soviet Union that he sneered at them as "useful idiots." Who Voted for Hitler found that the more affluent and better educated a neighborhood, the more likely it voted Nazi.

    Hitler wanted a world without Jews, whom he considered less than human. Stalin wanted one without kulaks (independent farmers). Abortion legalization was justified as a way to create a world without "unwanted children." And those destructive points of view go all the way down to the mugger, who wants a world where he has your money, the transfer of wealth being his idea of progress.

    That's wrong. No man, reasonable or unreasonable, has a right to "adapt the world to himself." Over six billion people live in this world. No one of them has a right to dictate to the rest of us what sort of world we live in, much less whether we live or die.

    Sorry for the rant. I'm quite aware that silly people use that quote for silly purposes rather evil agendas. But I have a particular dislike for the "motivational quote" sort who blunder through life with mottos they use to sell home siding without any awareness of what those quotes actually mean. A universe centered around a shallow personal ambition is as warped as one centered on a hideous global one.

    You can see where that sort of self-focused agenda leads in the news. Virtually every giant high-tech corporation on the planet seems to be caught up in lawsuits against the others. The world not only must be shaped their way, it has to carry their trademarked logo on it. All of them need to learn to be more adaptable to the world as it is rather than as they might want it to be.

    --Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II

  2. Mike,
    There's hype and there's hype. Comparing Jobs's "unreasonableness" as it was often described (entirely appropriately) to Hitler's or Stalin's is entirely INappropriate, in my view.

    Little motivational speeches often have large grains of truth to them and of course too much of the easy-think cannot apply to the 'common man' but that's not what we were talking about yesterday. It wasn't the death of a common person. It WAS the death of someone who had accomplished a lot and while doing so could be quite 'unreasonable' to others.

    For SURE, Jobs could be more than unreasonable in his expectations of others, but in his case he created what many would consider very positive results, whether or not we might like the person, and nothing in that statement, no matter what its source, deserved the comparisons you made.

    As you know, I was not a fan -- that doesn't mean I don't see what he did accomplish and that was quite a history.


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