Steve Jobs, artist and spiritual leader

On Wednesday, Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple. 

Not a huge transition from how things were a week ago, but it’s still a major symbolic shift.

It got me thinking.

What is it about Steve that’s so magical?

Why has this man captured our hearts and souls in a way no other business leader ever has?

What is it that makes him so different from anyone else?

I believe the story of Steve Jobs touches the depths of our soul, because it’s the story of getting rewarded for doing things the right way. A story about making big bucks by focusing on making big art.

We live in a world where it seems like the rich people are rich because they have made it their aim to get rich and not give a fuck about anything else (hello, Goldman Sachs), whereas the people who focus on creating amazing works of art are starving.

But Steve Jobs is a shining example of the complete opposite.

Steve Jobs has always been primarily focused on creating great products, products that are works of art. And as John Gruber puts it, his greatest work of art is Apple itself.

I’m not saying he has ignored profits. I’m not saying he’s been dumb about money. Not at all. But hos motivation, his focus, his drive has never been the money. He wasn’t willing to compromise the ability to create great products even when it meant a significantly smaller market.

Throughout the years, Steve Jobs has stayed true to his values, his ideals - to himself, ultimately - even when it cost him dearly.

And now, the vindication is here. Apple is kicking every competitor’s ass, and the competitors have no idea how to play the same game. Because they have long since lost themselves. Look at Microsoft, Google, Oracle. These companies have long ago lost their souls. Apple has stayed true to theirs.

I think it touches a deep mythological nerve in us to see the “right” approach and the “right” values win.

And not because it’s about the money. But the money and the market cap are important symbolic, because it means Steve Jobs beat those suckers at their own game.

Looking to the future, I hope this is more than an outlier. I hope - and believe - that this is a sign of the future. That humanity increasingly longs for and rewards businesses that embrace their humanity. Businesses that realize that life isn’t about the money, but about staying true to yourself and doing work you love.

In a sense, Steve Jobs is as much a spiritual leader as he is a business leader.

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