Steve Jobs and me

I am reading Steve Jobs’s biography.   Why does this yoga teacher want to read about an arrogant nasty person whose work centered on technology?  Really it was encountering the applications of iPhones and iPads in the disability world and the recommendation of a woman I met at the Colorado Center for the Blind.

A person could write about 15 different aspects of Jobs’s career, but I’m particularly drawn toward two of his work traits.  He knew how to focus, and he usually knew what to focus on.  “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said.  “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”   So he narrowed down the projects that Apple worked on and sought to perfect the products and services associated.   The other trait I admire in him is realizing what people need before they need it and creating it (and yes, it can obviously be argued that we don’t need iPhones).

The truth is that my current greatest career challenges are learning to focus and developing the confidence to press forward to create something I think many folks don’t know they need.   I have this problem of being distracted by some shiny existing job with a good salary when I am already on track in terms of creating my work.

Instead I need to hone in on my task, find others to work with, and follow Jobs’s example by going my own way, keeping my finger on the pulse of change, creating that which people do not yet know they need.

What did Jobs decide to turn away from as he moved toward his vision?  He turned away from developing some products, from working with other companies in sharing software, from employees who were not smart, creative, and tough.  Perhaps he decided not to focus on gentleness in his rush to produce.  He certainly didn’t waste time with people or things or designs he didn’t like.  What he did focus on was products he thought people would need, that would help them to be more creative, that would change the world.

What do I need to turn away from?  Fear, fancy mainstream jobs, the latest “lucrative career fields” posted on Yahoo.com.  I think that the need to belong and the fear of poverty are behind the process.  Like everyone, I want to feel needed, valued, productive, and like I can make a good living.  Such needs can supersede my creativity.  In addition, we are trained and conditioned from an early age to take our places in the system as it is rather than to question it and create new things.  Such conditioning has a strong hold on me and it slips in when I feel frustrated or isolated in what I’m doing.  Jobs’s cantankerous personality and his rebellions streak may have actually helped him stay on track, to be immune to the above mentioned needs and fears.  I do think his drive to create affected his behavior with others and was linked to his meanness.  Yet it seems his internal value system influenced his ability to inspire those who are creative, intelligent, and self-motivated.

And how do I stay focused?  I need to turn toward what excites and challenges me.  And toward tasks that align with my personal characteristics.  To calling attention to the failings in our health and mental healthcare system and proposing new models, to teaching yoga and writing.  I need to keep poking my nose out there.Image

I keep connecting with organizations and individuals involved in health care as a yoga teacher and writer.  My thought is to help individuals with health issues tune into their own inner wisdom, their own talents (re Jobs), their communities.  I take inspiration from the part of Jobs that was committed, took risks, connected with bright individuals in garages and corporations, dressed to suit himself, and kept his sights on the product.  Yes, many of his qualities were not as inspiring, but his focus and drive are.  And I do choose to take his advice to “think different.”

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53 Comments

  1. Such an intreresting post, and what a beautiful picture too! Thank you for sharing, and many congratulations on being Freshly Pressed :)

    Reply
  2. Just what I needed to read this morning….p.s. I hope you don’t mind, but I quoted too. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Sridhar

     /  October 8, 2012

    Thanks lynda

    Reply
  4. owesome blog, I love it

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  5. Nice (different) look at the Jobs story. Interesting how we can all see the same story, but from our own lens, and the picture at the end looks so different, not bad, just different. (congrats on being FP’d)

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  6. It is a great post! What you write about our condition to take our place in the system is true. However, taking a place you never go anywhere, you just achieve stability (from the word “stable” actually) and remain in the same place forever. We are all created / evolved with different needs, desires and visions. Some of us like the stability and some like to grow. And the main thing is that both things are fine. It all comes down to what is right for you.
    In my case in order to grow I pushed myself is all possible ways: left my relatively stable job some years ago, moved countries (twice in the last year) and cofounded in a startup. The truth is that it is very tiring and it brings “no security about the future” so to speak, but also I would not change it for anything in the world. I think that ultimately you have to follow your inner voice and trust that if you work hard and stay focus it will guide you in the right direction :)
    And as I said I love your post. Thank you for writing it!

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for the comment. You are very right that we each need to do what is right for us at a particular time, and sometimes the biggest need or desire is for stability. Well said.

      Reply
  7. “What do I need to turn away from? Fear, fancy mainstream jobs, the latest “lucrative career fields” posted on Yahoo.com. I think that the need to belong and the fear of poverty are behind the process. Like everyone, I want to feel needed, valued, productive, and like I can make a good living. Such needs can supersede my creativity. In addition, we are trained and conditioned from an early age to take our places in the system as it is rather than to question it and create new things. Such conditioning has a strong hold on me and it slips in when I feel frustrated or isolated in what I’m doing. ”

    A very loud and heartfelt amen. This is such an important, powerful point — I wish every student aiming for (sigh) law school or business school as their default safe choice would read this as well. I work alone as a writer/author, and there are many days people who choose a less secure/trodden/familiar path will doubt their choice if they make one like mine and yours. The very fact of moving away from safety looks odd and a little weird. But it’s often exactly where some of the the best, freshest work will come from.

    Good for you! And congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    Reply
  8. techietalk

     /  October 8, 2012

    Reblogged this on Techie.

    Reply
  9. I am between things and a little confused as well and I can relate to this post sooo much! :)

    Thanks a lot

    Reply
  10. I think it is important to look at how people succeed even though their area of interest differs from mine. Saying, “I’m not going to do that” is so very important.

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  11. Great post. I feel inspired to read Steve Jobs’ biography.

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  12. What a thoughtful and well written post. Congrats on FP. I need to focus on somethings and not others too. So many distractions. Great post.

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  13. Excellent insight. Thanks for the inspiration, and congrats on the Fresh Press.

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  14. very interesting post.

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  15. Steve Job also inspires me today as well. It is good to think out of the box, don’t you think?

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  16. I probably disagreed with Steve Jobs on a great many things, but I still admired him for being a visionary. If we look hard enough at any person (not just the super-famous) they will have some trait that we can appreciate or approve of. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

    Reply
  17. villem592

     /  October 8, 2012

    This is very well written — concise, yet familiar and well-considered.

    It might be helpful to understand that Jobs was a true entrepreneur, and he had to be tough — especially in consumer high-tech.

    Reply
  18. very interesting post, thanks for sharing…

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  19. Very nice sharing, thanks…

    Reply
  20. Very well written, and impressive considering you clearly weren’t his biggest fan as a person. Yet, you commented on attributes we can learn from and apply to elicit a positive outcome. I recently wrote on a similar topic — Do What You Love. When one has a passion and a drive — and as you put it, a FOCUS — they will be far more prone to succeed. “Shiny jobs” and impressive salaries may be enticing, but if we loathe what we are doing, we are wasting away our potential — which is absurd. Good words — and Stay Creative!

    MT

    Reply
  21. This is so well written. It’s exactly what I find inspiring in Steve Jobs as well. I agree that there are things that we can learn from him and one of those things is to do what you love. Well done on making it to Freshly Pressed. It is well deserved.

    Reply
  22. I really enjoyed reading Job’s bio. I just started a new job last week, something outside anything I have done before. Although I love my new job, it seems to have me a bit off balanced in therms of focus…focus at work, focus in terms of what goes on at home, and what I want to do with myself inspiration wise. This was a good post to read to remind me to just breathe. Thnx

    Reply
  23. Such a high calling as well as an immense challenge, to shy away from what the world would call us to do in favor of forging our own paths. Even focusing can be quite the challenge in a world that is desperate to distract us with shiny, pretty, new and “necessary things”. Thank you for sharing, and I wish you the best of luck and strength!

    Reply
  24. Great quotes from a very motivated and talented individual. Focus is a tough thing to grasp. I know I’m bad with it. Lately, I’ve been great at being focused on writing but terrible at focusing on ONE specific story to write. Thus, no screenplay or novel can be completed. Just bits and shorts. No good.

    Good luck in achieving the level of focus Mr. Jobs mentions. We could all take a page from his playbook.

    Reply
  25. really interesting post…

    congrags for being freshly pressed :D

    Reply
  26. A really awesome blog, and I mean it!
    And I can perfectly understand what you mean, Steve’s Bio had a huge impact on my life, too!

    Reply
  27. luttrellg

     /  October 9, 2012

    You summed up the two traits in Steve Jobs that made him so unique. I’m sure he’d be honored to be remembered by his ability to focus and knowing what to focus on.

    Fantastic article – will be looking forward to your coming posts!

    Reply
  28. Reblogged this on queenkherwin.

    Reply
  29. The aspects that you bring to light about him and, many more are brilliant! I read the book with the ringing in my ear from others saying, ” he is a j/o”. Well maybe so, but you can’t deny he knew what he wanted from himself, his company and his adversaries and went and took it. Great book. Great man. Great post.

    Reply
  30. really good post

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  31. I really enjoyed your post! It makes me think of the quote, “Follow your passion, not your peers.” Following your passion (for me anyway) can sometimes make you lose focus on what you need to do to actually get to where you need to be. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, don’t you think?

    Reply
  32. I still cannot believe he is gone…but wonderful post. Very well written.

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  33. His speech about connecting the dots was interesting. But how can we predict what is important or can be valuable in future?

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  34. Thanks for these aspects and examples. It’s a plaesure to read your text!

    Reply
  35. Nice job! you have made it to the Freshly pressed and that is an accomplishment on its own. The fact that so many get distracted by a J O B that simply keeps them from achieve their ultimate goals. Keep up the focus and hopefully you get to your goals.

    Also, im trying to reach people in need of a remodeling contractor. I got distracted from my goals and joined a contracting company http://www.socalpb.com and have been here for awhile. I am hoping it turns into a career but who knows now and days.

    Reply
  36. Thank you for sharing, what an inspiring post, I often wonder what drives us and others. Focus on oneself is important, and understanding drivers is as well. Beautiful picture too by the way. Reblogged to http://www.ecomom22.com

    Reply
  37. Reblogged this on ecomom22.

    Reply
  38. It’s hard to keep finding people that challenge you and are smart, when you have to leave those who you built relationships up with. Really interesting take on Jobs, great writing.

    Reply
  39. Reblogged this on Steve_Bro.

    Reply
  40. Touche. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.

    Reply
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