7 Life Lessons from Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs. One of the greatest minds of our time. We all know him as the co-founder and chief driver of Apple. Responsible for the iPhone, iPod, and lots of other iProducts. But beyond his innovative genius, he was a source of great inspiration to many people. Offering words of wisdom and encouragement to live by.
Whether it was on stage in his iconic black turtleneck at a product launch, in his interviews, or mentioned in one of his biographies, Jobs was always giving great advice. I have found the advice invaluable in my work and personal life, and would love to share seven of his messages that I take on board — and you can too.
1. My favorite things in life don’t cost any money
The most precious resource we all have is time.
In the current economic situation, this holds true more than ever. People have lost jobs, businesses, and are perhaps living on the financial edge. This is a concern but in many instances is beyond their control. What they can control now is their time.
Spending time with family, trying a new hobby, learning a new skill — these are all things that don’t cost money but take up our most valuable resource — time.
I can speak from experience. I lost my business — a business I had spent eight years building. Faced with a lot of extra time on my hands, I turned to what I had always loved but never found the time to do — writing.
Now is the perfect time for me to write. Because I have time.
Find what you have always wanted to do, but haven’t had time for. Eventually, life will return to normal, and we may look back and wish we had done more when we had the chance. Use this precious resource now.
2. Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.
Ouch. A brick to the back of the head hurts. But guess what? Throughout our lifetime, we are going to get hit with a lot of bricks. No one goes through life without a few bricks.
The key is never to give up. There are many analogies of people repeatedly getting knocked down but getting back up. To me, the image of Steve Jobs, copping brick after brick but soldiering on, is one I keep in mind whenever I have a setback. As a new writer, I could build a mansion with all the brick rejections I receive. At first, it was very discouraging. The self-doubt was immense, and I was tempted to give it up.
But I saw that many great writers faced multiple rejections. The best writers have all been rejected.
J. K. Rowling sent her finished Harry Potter manuscript to twelve different publishers only to be rejected by them all. Twenty-seven publishers rejected Dr. Seuss. Steven King had his first book, Carrie, rejected thirty times.
So each rejection, you receive, is another brick in the wall. While there is still a gap in that wall — and there always will be — keep the faith and keep writing.
3. Quality is more important than quantity.
One home run is much better than two doubles.
Society is geared to be go, go, go. Goals to be met. Things to produce. And this often comes to the detriment of quality. The urge to get something done and dusted leads to a decline in quality.
Again using writing as an example, there is the compulsion to produce content. To become a production mill to ensure there are always words being put forward. I noticed myself doing this — putting undue pressure to write X articles a day. Not only did it detract from the enjoyment, when I re-read them, but they also were not articles I was proud of.
So I reset. I am focused on writing one great article, rather than three mediocre ones. I am not a baseball fan — the hot dogs and beer are the highlights — but this analogy is spot on. Sides win based on home runs, not doubles.
And for my writing, I needed more home runs and fewer doubles. Or more realistically singles. OK- strikeouts.
4. Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter
Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters.
You may think that it is easy for a wealthy man to say that being rich doesn’t matter. Despite being a billionaire, Jobs never flaunted his wealth. He lived in a modest house on an ordinary street, without the long driveway and gated fence favoured by the wealthy. He focused on creation and pursuits he loved rather than what would make the most money.
Jobs saw how people changed once they became wealthy, saying; “I saw these people who were really nice, simple people turn into these bizarre people. I made a promise to myself: I said, I’m not going to let this money ruin my life.”
As a society, we are driven by money, but if we pulled back from this and focused more on achieving positive outcomes, the overall rewards will be more fruitful.
Yes, we all need to make money to survive, but we also need to make time to do things that we enjoy and that we are happy with. That is providing benefit to others.
5. Getting fired was the best thing that could have ever happened.
The heaviness was replaced by the lightness of beginning again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
The ultimate brick to the head must be getting fired by the company you started. From its origins in a garage, Jobs built Apple into one of the world's biggest companies — but was fired after a struggle with the board in 1985.
Rather than wallow in self-pity, he started a new company NeXT. At the same time, he helped to develop the visual effects industry when he funded the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm — called Pixar.
Jobs used his newfound freedom to get back to his creative roots. The case could be made that if he hadn’t left Apple, Pixar would never have been created.
The philosophy here is to use any failures or setbacks as opportunities. I am no Steve Jobs, but I have used the loss of my business to focus on my writing. To do a comedy writing course. To write more articles like this. Will I create Pixar — unlikely! But I will tap into the creative side of my brain. I will make losing my business the best thing that has happened to me.
6. If you don’t love it, you’re going to fail
Every task in life, be it work, pleasure, or a combination of both — can have some element of fun in it. The key is to find the one positive that makes the task fun. No matter how small it is.
If you can get some happiness from a task, it will make it far easier to complete. One tip I employ is smiling while doing a job. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. These make us feel good by elevating our mood. Smiling is the best natural drug there is!
So we can trick our brain into believing we are enjoying a task. It is preferable to actually enjoy the job but at least try this simple step first and act like you enjoy it. This optimism will become self-fulfilling and you will increase the enjoyment of your work. The happiest people get the best results.
7. Pick up the phone
Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask. And that’s what separates sometimes the people that do things from the people that just dream about them.
While you are reading this — and hopefully being inspired — are you thinking, “I wish I could do that. I wish I could try that.”
Well, one thing I can guarantee if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. No one is going to call you. No one is going to knock on your door with an opportunity.
I had always wanted to be a Sports Agent — like Jerry Maguire. Unfortunately for me, so did thousands of others in my city. So I needed to think outside the square, I needed to go above and beyond to get my dream job. I devised a creative solution and then called — a lot. I got the job by calling and asking.
If you never ask the question, you will never get the answer. Call. Email. Apply online. Whether it is a job, a course, a new skill to learn. Do it! Whatever it is, it is up to you to take action. Don’t sit back and wait.
The Steve Jobs legacy is vast. It is seen every day — people staring at their iPhones, day and night. He changed the way people live.
But his genius lies beyond those products. And in his words. I implore you to use these quotes to change the way you live beyond just the iPhone, but in all aspects of your life.
“One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.” — Steve Jobs