One thing that struck me about the death of Steve Jobs was that it came the very day after the new iPhone announcement. He has always had a knack for getting the timing right, from the smallest of the small like when he talked, to the big things, like which technology to bet on when.
He probably wanted to see that they could hold their own without him, before he finally let go, and gave in to his illness.
He has been the greatest of the great. In the products he’s given birth to, like the iPhone, iPad, Toy Story. In the company he has created in his image. And in the inspiration he’s provided to millions of people around the world, merely by being who he was, and conducting business in the way he did. He has, for me, completely changed the face of business and capitalism for the better.
I’m looking forward to reading the first and only official biography about him when it comes out on November 21st. It’s clear from this whole process how prepared he’s been, how much he knew that his time was up. He got to say his goodbyes, the way he wanted to, given the circumstances.
From his famous Stanford Commencement address from 2005 which I’ve linked to many times before, and which changed my life:
My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctors’ code for “prepare to die.” It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next ten years to tell them, in just a few months. It means to make sure that everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes. (transcript)
It’s hard to overestimate the contribution of this man on so many levels. I’ve been reading the tributes of other big names, like Obama, Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, and many others. And I can’t help but thinking how these people are nothing, compared to Steve Jobs, It’s not so much his products and creations. It’s who he was. He had truly found his own core self, and was able to stay with it, through the pressures of being CEO of the almost-largest company in the world. That is truly remarkable.
In the words of Steven Pressfield:
I have a theory that charisma arises from authenticity. When a writer has found his voice, when a singer has discovered her style, they have power. We feel it. It draws us to them. Why? Because we want it too. We want to be ourselves they way they are themselves. One of the reasons animals in the wild are so compelling is that they are entirely themselves. They can’t be otherwise.
Steve had that. He “coincided with himself”, in a way I have yet to see any comparable public figure even get close to.
Thank you, Steve, for showing us how it’s done.
As for the rest of us, I’m with Seth. Our job is to honor Steve Jobs through our actions. To use his products to create wonderful things. To be inspired by him to coincide with ourselves.
Let’s honor Steve by being all we can be, and by going out and creating magical and wonderful works of art, for profit and fun.