Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: Lessons From His Legacy



We've all seen it done before. A person passes away, and everyone that speaks about him practically deifies the guy. It's as if we clearly see people as very much human and imperfect... until they die.

Well, I certainly don't want to deify Steve Jobs here. He was a mere man. A genius -- but still a mere man. And after reading a bit of his backstory, I now see him much clearer than I did before he passed away. He was a man of remarkable achievement. He was also a man with flaws and more than a few poor choices in his past.

To list a few markers I read in his biography:
  • he originally denied paternity to his first-born child Lisa, born to ex-girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan
  • In the late seventies/early eighties he was considered too temperamental a manager
  • Once fired from the company he helped begin, he "took revenge" by creating a competing product
He was also a man of great paradox. Having studied Zen Buddhism in his youth, he had considered becoming a monk in a monastery in Japan. His guru, however, convinced him to start Apple instead. And the rest is history...

Yet with all we know of Steve Jobs, I believe we Christians can glean much from his 56 years on earth. I'd like to point out some life lessons from observing the extraordinary life of this amazing man.

First of all, I've discovered that some of the coolest people are adoptees. Born in 1955 to unwed college graduates, Steve was adopted by a couple in California's Bay Area, Paul and Clara Jobs. The orphan care/adoption advocate that I am, this fact makes my heart skip a beat. Some of the most brilliant, talented and world-changing people just happen to have been adopted. Aren't we all glad that Steve's biological parents were pro-life?

Steve's life also teaches us the power of vision. In the mid-seventies he convinced his computer whiz friend, Stephen "Woz" Wozniak, to sell his first creation: a computer built in Woz's garage that consisted of only a circuit board. Woz agreed and Apple Computer was born. Fast forward to four years later when Apple went public. The company grew at a tremendous pace, increasing Steve's net worth to over $200 million the day it went public. He was only 25.

Consider, also, the more recent success of the Apple computer, the iPod and the iPad. Oh, and what about that little-production-company-that-could that he bought in 1986 named "Pixar"? Though Pixar struggled to produce any serious revenue for almost a decade, in 1995 it released Toy Story, the first computer-generated animation movie of all time. Toy Story's box-office success, and thus Pixar's success on Wall Street, was almost literally off the charts.

Steve forever changed four different industries: personal computers (Apple and Macintosh), music (iPod and iTunes), phones (iPhone) and animated films (Pixar).

And it all began with a vision birthed in Steve while sitting in his buddy's garage.

I'll borrow our third lesson from Apple's slogan: Think Different. "Think Different" became the mantra for a revolutionary marketing campaign promoting the idea that people who use Macs were dreamers who could change the world.

World-Changers. That's what we Christian are, aren't we? The Bible calls us "ambassadors," here temporarily to represent our true home, heaven and our Heavenly Father. According to 2 Corinthians 5:20, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." Ambassadors must never forget where they come from. They must remember who they represent. To get lost in their present culture would be detrimental to their mission. 

They must think differently.

The steep mountains and plummeting valleys of Steve's professional life also hold a major life lesson: persistence is a necessity. How many times did Steve fall, brush himself off, then get right back up in the saddle? Time after time. You'd think he would have given up after several failed computer models. You'd think he would have thrown in the towel after his folks fired him from his own company. We would have let him off the hook if he had quit as CEO of Apple when his body and health mercilessly failed him.

But no, Steve did not quit. And we can't either.

Until He Calls Me Home,

Carla

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