Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs and "Greatness"

Most every educated person in the world by now knows that Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computers, Pixar, and various other companies passed away this week at the all too early age of 56. Most of us are in awe of what Steve Jobs accomplished in his relatively short time on earth. Most of us have no clue what his life was really like or what it took to get where he did in this life.

In an exchange with some friends today regarding Mr. Jobs over an article that was basically saying we all have the potential of success such as Steve Jobs had, I wrote the following:

”I think too much emphasis is put on simple “belief” and “positive thinking” type of messaging. The words that I think caused Steve Jobs successes are VISION and ACTION ( or “WORK”). Many people have great visions of grandeur but no work ethic. Many others are hard, dutiful workers, but are working someone else’s vision or plan. Many people want to think that just by believing hard enough or having a plan or vision is enough. Most people don’t reach their goals or vision…because they don’t work hard enough. In some cases their vision is unrealistic to their capabilities. In most cases they have no vision at all.

Much emphasis is and will be made of Mr. Jobs “vision”, but most will not focus on the hard work and SACRIFICES he made to accomplish his vision. Nothing is easy and nothing is for free in this life. Yes, life is harder for some more than others either because of lack of inheritances, baggage (emotional or otherwise), and just plain “all men are NOT created equal”. But, with hard work and vision we all can reach our own levels of potential…and that is what I strive for personally.”

Another thought I had yesterday when reading Steve Jobs obituary in the NY Times was…”what about these other people who died this week”? Here are SOME of the people who were on the “same page” as Steve…

Derrick Bell, Law Professor and Rights Advocate, Dies at 80

Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, an Elder Statesman for Civil Rights, Dies at 89

Sarkis G. Soghanalian, an Arms Dealer Who Aided U.S. Intelligence, Dies at 82

Bert Jansch, an Influential Folk Guitarist, Is Dead at 67

A.C. Nielsen Jr., Who Built Ratings Firm, Dies at 92

David Mitchell, Broadway Set Designer, Dies at 79

Marv Tarplin, Motown Guitarist and Songwriter, Dies at 70

Ralph M. Steinman, a Nobel Recipient for Research on Immunology, Dies at 68

Everett Ellin Dies at 82; Helped Computerize Art Catalogs

Peter Gent, Football Novelist, Dies at 69

Michael J. Drake, Planetary Scientist, Dies at 65

Mike Heimerdinger, 58, Who Helped to Coach Super Bowl Winners, Is Dead

Joseph Carmichael Jr., a Carrier Hero, Dies at 96

Lee Davenport Dies at 95; Developed Battlefront Radar

My thinking was…which of these people of note that died this week was the “greatest” human being? How would you measure such a thing? By how much money they made (to me that seems to be the number one qualification in modern society)? How many lives they “saved” by what they devoted themselves to? By how many obstacles they had to overcome to reach their final epitaph?

“Greatness” in my opinion is not about money or fame. Greatness is about being a quality human being to all other human beings. Greatness is about having grace and character…about having a balance between expectations of people…and forgiving them. Greatness is about what you do for others that no one knows about. Greatness is about the “motivation” behind your actions. Greatness is about honesty, integrity, values and discipline. Hopefully we all have had someone “great” in our lives…who spurred us towards the positive side of ourselves. Someone who “practiced as they preached” and yet embraced their humanity with all its flaws and imperfections.

Life to me has simply become a challenge of OVERCOMING. We spend our lives overcoming people and obstacles that get in the way of our vision(s). Sometimes it is simply overcoming bad thinking or that "tape recorder" in our heads from our childhood telling us we aren`t good enough or won`t amount to anything. From what I know of Steve Jobs, he overcame MANY obstacles to get to the level he did…yet I have a feeling he would have given every last cent he had to overcome the last obstacle to his future.

The other people on the obit list this week are known but less famous than Steve. This may seem morbid to some, but I read the obituaries once or twice per week. I read them from the standpoint of seeking inspiration. I find the obits to be the best summaries, at least in the eyes of society, of what a person accomplished and what their journey was about. I take encouragement from the inspirational things I read about them, but usually I am also reminded that in every life comes tragedy and trials. People get rich and go broke every day. Some people marry, some get divorced…every day. Some are born and some die…every day. The motivation I take from these obits is that the clock ticks the same for everyone, and no one knows how much time they have to accomplish their vision. So, let’s get on with it…LIVING...and writing our own future obituaries.

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