Though many of us might have quietly wondered if the departure of Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO signaled the end of his life, none of us were willing to speak the words out loud. But he’s gone. Too soon and without giving us all the things he might have given us over the coming decades had cancer not taken him early. Way too early.
Selfishly I worry that any emerging technologies will now somehow be less miraculous, less innovative, and less unbelievable. I worry that the trajectory Steve Jobs put us on will now lose much of its momentum and fall short, leaving many of us to say, “Steve Jobs would have done this better.” It is selfish, I know.
But, and I’ve said this before, I remember when the telephone was connected to the wall in the kitchen, I remember when the notion of digital imagery was unrealistic, and I remember music on vinyl. He changed all that and much more.
Perhaps the greatest miracle performed by Steve Jobs was that he forced the future to come early. I don’t want that to end. I want to see in my lifetime what I thought only future generations would see and I now selfishly wonder who among us can make that happen. Compounding my thoughts are comparisons of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, etc, all implying that our lifetime has had its technology genius; he’s gone, and that’s that.
Time will tell if he was in fact our one and only. However if you’re out there young Steve, I offer you the following advice.
Message to the next Steve Jobs
- Ideas will come to you in ways that don’t come to the rest of us. You’ll need to recognize this in yourself and see it as a gift not a flaw. You’ll have to trust yourself – the rest of us will be of little help to you here and even worse, we’ll try to talk you out of pursuing your ideas.
- You’ll need to have patience with those who cannot see your vision until you put in our hands.
- You’ll need to be pushy and controlling to the point of making enemies – innovation and revolution demand courage, conviction, and the ability to push obstacles out of your way. You will also have to engage in the arduous work of making believers out of your enemies.
- You will need to accept the fact that the work you do for the world will come at a cost to you personally. I thank you in advance for that.
- You’ll also need to come to terms with the fact that the rest of us are selfish. We will take what you offer and we will complain that it’s not enough. We’ll also take you for granted much of the time.
- You may also find that many of us will accept you for what you give us – not for who you truly are. You may be lonely some of the time.
- When you leave us, be it too soon or after a long full life, we will feel enormous loss and wish we had worked harder to make you feel more like one of us.
Thank you Steve
I want to thank Steve Jobs for enabling my career and bringing the future to me early. [Words fail here.] I also want to extend my sincere condolences to your family and your friends for their loss. A loss I’m certain is multiplied a thousand-fold by what the rest of us feel. Thank you Steve Jobs.