The passing of Steve Jobs will no doubt bring a deserved flurry of eulogies over the next few days and weeks. He will be remembered by history as one of the architects of a new age, and I feel it is a privilege to live in a world at least partly shaped by his vision of it. I did not know him, nor did I ever meet him, not even in passing. But I do feel that his life has taught me some valuable lessons.
Without too much comment, here are some of the key lessons I have learnt from Steve Jobs’ life:
- One man can change the world. It will probably work best with a great team and a growing tribe, but one man can change the world.
- You don’t have to be normal. You can break the rules.
- You don’t have to listen to all the voices. You can give people what they need, and not just what they want and what they know to ask for.
- There are second chances.
- You can change the world. Steve Jobs devoted his life to giving human beings the most powerful devices ever to be put into the hands of individuals (you’re reading this on one of them). He has given me power and abilities that were only available to royalty just a few centuries ago.
- Beauty matters. Design wins. Do gorgeous work.
- Steve Jobs showed us that presentations can be exciting, visually stimulating, enriching and uplifting. We should not copy his unique style, but we should understand the principles that made his presentations so compelling: simplicity, personality, visually gorgeous, “edu-taining”.
- The 1950s were a great time to be born. Baby Boomers are a privileged generation.
- You can keep doing what you love until you die. You don’t have to retire. No-one is asking, “If he was that sick, why did Steve keep working to the end?” Everyone knows the answer.
- Cancer sucks!
- And finally, his death to cancer teaches me that no matter how rich, powerful, connected, clever or technology advanced you are, death comes to us all. I need to live my life in the knowledge that this life is not all there is. I don’t know what Steve Jobs believed would happen after he died – whatever he believed, he now knows the truth. Each of us will soon know that truth too; some sooner than later; some sooner than we think. We need to be sure we are ready to face that. I am. Are you?
RIP Steve Jobs. Thank you. Your legacy is assured.