Positive Lessons I Learned from Steve Jobs

I recently finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.  It is a mammoth book.  But as a person who uses Apple products I found it to be very interesting.  Jobs asked that Isaacson not hold back and present a full picture of the now deceased CEO of Apple Computer.  The result is a balanced view of the good, the bad, and the ugly about Jobs.

After reading the book I found Jobs to be both a man to emulate and a man whose character and qualities at times ought to be avoided at all costs. Today I want to mention four positive lessons I learned from Steve Jobs.

  1. Stay Focused on the Right Things – Jobs had an incredible ability to determine what was important and then focus on those things but not on others.  This was seen when he returned to Apple and radically cut back their product line to what he defined as the core product line.  Apple’s product line became much smaller but much more focused.   Jobs believed that deciding what not to do was as important as deciding what to do.  This kind of focus is crucial for any success.  Too many of us do not exercise the discipline of good focus by saying “No” to good things when they interfere with the best.
  2. Expect a lot from yourself and others – Steve Jobs was a control freak that was passionate about quality.  The great design of Apple products is a clear indication of his unwillingness to settle for what would have satisfactory for  many other companies.  Sometimes his control addiction created problems for both Jobs and Apple but the consumer ought to rejoice at Job’s insistence on quality.  Too often the average person settles for what is good enough.  In the Christian world we need more people and churches that pursue quality.
  3. Dream Big and Refuse to Settle – This is the working out of the point above.  Jobs refused to give up his big dreams merely because they ran into problems or he was told it wouldn’t work.  Coworkers at Apple famously spoke of Job’s “reality distortion field.”  This was Job’s refusal to accept reality and insist that things be done his way – a way that many believed was impossible.  But, these same people also testified that most often Job’s refusal to bend his desires to reality resulted in far better products than would have been produced other wise.  Leaders need to walk a fine line in this area.  We must not give in quickly to those following us who doubt our cause or goal.   Detractors will also settle for the easiest way.  Greatness in organizations and individually comes when leaders refuse to listen to the crowd and insist on moving forward.  Often, as in Job’s case, such leaders are able to lead their groups to accomplish much more than any one thought possible.
  4. Do what You Love – Steve Job’s passion at Apple was that he loved the process and the products which he made.  Jobs was not motivated by money   but by the goal of making quality products which were beautiful and simple.  Find what you love to do and pursue it wholeheartedly.  I am so thankful that I am able to do what I love for my work.  I can’t imagine doing anything other than being a pastor.  Find your love and pursue it.
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