How to dent the universe – Lessons from Steve Jobs

Apple briefly became the world’s largest companyby market value, earlier this year.  Its rise and fall is closely linked to Steve Jobs. Yet, Steve Jobs legacy extends far beyond his role at Apple.

As innovators we have learnt that there is a place for independent thinking.  It is possible to retain an individual approach in a world of established norms. Steve Jobs ignored entrenched industry norms to reinvent music, personal computing and entertainment. He co-founded Apple and Pixar. He delivered the Apple ‘renaissance’ with the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad and opened Apple own retail stores. He demonstrated the power of vision connected to action.  That dreams need delivery.

As business professionals we can take a lesson in courage. That radical innovation can leapfrog an industry, create a sustainable lead on competitors and provide unparalleled financial returns.  That ‘first-movers’ can win. Apple delivers premiums above competitors, across its product range. We can learn that failure is only a lesson along the way and not a destination.  Apple’s successful iRange is built on failures like the Newton, the Pippin and the Tam. Business professionals don’t need to conform.  They can succeed by taking a punt on things that are radically different from the accepted norm and being willing to fail as well as to win.

As human beings we have learnt that it is possible to be successful in business and to remain true to yourself.  Jobs never stopped believing in his own personal magic and refused to compromise his ideals for an accepted view of personal or business success.  He showed that we can stop judging ourselves and reframe perceived ‘failure’.  Steve Jobs was devastated to be fired from Apple.  He reframed this as an opportunity to begin without the weight of expectation. We can learn that there are no excuses.  That being adopted or a college drop-out is insufficient to explain a wasted life. Mostly, however, Steve Jobs dented my universe because he stayed ‘hungry and foolish’. He trusted life and followed his heart.

As the Apple board acknowledged “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve”.

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