Steve Jobs. When you hear this name, what do you think of? Perhaps you remember those school Macs, loaded up with Oregon Trail and ready for your enjoyment. Perhaps you think of those trademark black turtlenecks. Or maybe, you pull out your iPhone and check for texts, silently thanking this tech visionary for his contributions to the modern world.
No matter how you spin it, the man is one of our most valued humans, and the lessons he imparted upon his employees, fans and investors will stick with us for a long time. Although we may not have had the pleasure of knowing this man personally, we can most certainly internalize some of his great lessons and become better people, workers, and citizens.
Lesson No. 1: Trust Yourself
Trusting others is relatively easy. You get to know them. You give them small tasks to do or entrust them with small pieces of information. You encourage them to apply for that new job or to start their own business. But yourself? No way! What if you fail? What if you mess up? What will your family say?
Instead of doubting yourself and missing out on a great opportunity, consider the words of Steve Jobs on what it means to trust yourself:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Lesson No. 2: Laugh in the Face of Failure
Jobs was terminated by his own successor, one of the greatest public embarrassments we ever saw. Although many of us likely felt bad for Jobs, he seemed to take it in stride and got right back on the proverbial horse. Even before his unfortunate death on October 5, 2011, and after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told that he had only a few weeks left to live, according to deadorkicking.com, he refocused and did all he could to focus upon his passion. A quote from his 2005 Stanford commencement speech illustrates this beautifully:
“…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 inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Indeed, knowing that you lived your life on your terms and followed the dream you felt was worthy of your blood, sweat and tears is the mark of a life well lived. Do not be afraid to pursue your goal.
Lesson No. 3: Don’t Worry About Being Right, Just Be Successful
Jobs used this concept after he was fired by Apple. If you must use other’s ideas and suggestions to make sure you are successful, do it. (Of course, you must give credit where it is due). You simply cannot have a vision of how your idea or product will turn out-you have to be realistic and try, try and try.
Consider the Apple III-when it first debuted, it became so hot that it warped its own motherboard even after Jobs insisted that it would run smoothly. Yet, if Jobs had never branched out and only stuck with Lisa, the Mac would never have seen the light of day.
Lesson No. 4: Surround Yourself with Successful People
This is a lesson that many of us have heard from many others over the years and hearing it from the great Steve Jobs cements it as a valuable lesson to internalize and follow.
Too many Apple fans may not have realized that Apple was not just Steve Jobs. It was easy to see only him as the face of the company since he cared so much about it and was always publicly speaking about it.
However, there were many people who worked at Apple that made everything work: talents like Steve Wozniak, Phil Schiller, Jony Ive, Tim Cook, and Ron Johnson all were major players in the success of Apple, and some still are today. That’s not even considering the Apple Store associates and customer service representatives that do their best to serve customers and the company vision each and every day.
All these people, whether great or small, share the same vision and want their company to succeed-you should, too!
Lesson No. 5: Listen to That Inner Voice
This ties back in with trusting yourself. You always want to go with your gut. Your parents or family may have told you “You will be an accountant, because your father and grandfather were, and you shall do the same.” So, you go along with it, even though there’s a little voice telling you something else.
Said Jobs, Listen to it. Jobs was always a man with a plan and a need to succeed. He was always innovating, thinking, designing, and dreaming. Don’t live your life doing what others think you should do because it guarantees a safe and harmless path to success. Consider the way in which Jobs saw the example of GUI, or Graphical User Interface. He knew this was the future of computers and he simply had to create it and make it his own.
You just never know if your special idea may be the ticket to successful and happy life-as Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” So, don’t be afraid to pursue that idea or pitch your suggestion at work-it may go better than you think!
Lesson No. 6: Art and Science Should Work Together
Students, your parents may hen-peck you to death, telling you there is no future in art but there is in science. Apple, on the other hand, has always tried to blend art and science into one entity. Jobs himself pointed out that the difference between Apple and its competitors is that Apple always tries to create products that bring together both art and science.
The original team that worked on the Mac, Jobs points out, had backgrounds in art, history, anthropology, and writing. Even today, Apple products have soul and personality, and are made to be very friendly to professional content creators all the way to parents who just want to capture every moment. Remember that art, as well as science, are equally important.
Lesson No. 7: Don’t Focus on the Past
At the D5 Conference in 2007, Jobs stated “Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.”
There is so much to be gained from this particular quotation from Jobs. While it is easy and somewhat healthy to dwell on the past (learning from past mistakes, reminiscing about good times with friends and family) one cannot live in the past. Living there is a surefire way to lock yourself out of future fun, opportunities, and good memories.
So, even if you make a mistake at work, mess up a relationship, or make a decision you regret, focus on how you can fix it. Apologize to that friend. Work harder at your job and show everyone you are a great employee. Learn from your bad decision. After all, what’s done is done, and you can only create a better tomorrow for yourself.
Lesson No. 8: Hard Work Makes Dreams Come True
What if you were told you could have anything you wanted, so long as you worked hard enough? You’d definitely want to work hard, right? Of course. After all, Steve Jobs is just one of many great examples of the rewards hard work brings to those who take on the huge responsibilities associated with such an action.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the ‘90’s, the company was mere weeks away from bankruptcy. Now, the company is huge and people around the world love Apple products in both professional and personal capacities. It was no easy task for Jobs to turn things around, but his hard work most certainly paid off.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that although Steve Jobs is held in very high esteem by Apple fans and business leaders alike, he was a person just like you and I. Steve Jobs was a father, a friend, a husband, and an employee.
But the difference is that he was good at all of these roles, achieving a balance that is hard for many. He set a fine example for his followers and his employees, and also for the general public in the way he did not let his termination from Apple slow him down.
And even when cancer decided it would take the life of Jobs at an early age, he refused to go without a fight. His legacy lives on in the innovation, beauty and joy found in every Apple product years after his death.
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