With so much on the mind, and things to do, there never seems like quite enough time to capture it all. Furthermore, listening to the news these days can make folks feel downright despondent, and anything but empowered. With so much political pandering, rightful rage over the machine, and talk about the dismal economy, I wanted to write something a bit more…shall I say…empowering.
By now, most of us have heard of the sad news of the passing of Steve Jobs, former CEO and brainchild of Apple Computer, this past week. Without a doubt, his absence will be felt for a long time. Lucky for us, we got a glimpse into what made Jobs a man more than worth noting. In his addresses, Jobs would emphasize the need for taking risks, and doing what you love while you have the life to do it. Few demonstrated such ease when speaking of death’s certainty as he did. To some, it may have seemed morbid, but the lessons aren’t lost to us. Death’s imminence, he concurred, should be enough motivation and gumption to live out one’s dreams no matter what the popular vote or economic tide suggests. His rise as Apple’s CEO, business leader, and one thought to have “…very well invented the 21st century”, is laudable; however, I think that the most brilliant thing about the illustrious life of Steve Jobs was not his career, as much as it was his vision and the credibility that he assigned to his own creative genius. Ultimately, he built a legacy and empire that required no endorsement from doubters and/or those who underestimated the magnitude of his vision. They saw products. He saw a movement.
Surely, limited resources was a burning issue for Jobs and co-founder Wozniak during the early years while they were trying to secure customers and clients for what they believed was an incredible product; however, they didn’t abandon their innovative fortitude, or off-the-beaten-path ideas about technology, despite limited funds. Though they each had their own commendable gifts, they also had an even more remarkable partnership and a synergy that seemed impenetrable. They knew they were on to something, and didn’t stop at “No”, closed doors, or the fact that they did not command a large share of voice, even when they did secure their own company . They knew that what they had to offer was ingenious, out-of-the-box, anything but ordinary, and remained firm in their resolve that folks would eventually catch up …in their lifetime. And heck, if they didn’t catch up, Jobs and Wozniak still believed that their concept was worthy of standing on its own, rather than creating something that was more like what the dominant players in the PC market were offering. The perception that their products were too niche for a larger mass market did little to sway their confidence in what they fundamentally knew was a superior product. Now, that’s some radical vision right there! One might ask, “how do I get just a little bit of that kind of vision?”
I am a firm believer that we are to make use of the Life that we’re given between the bookends of birth and death. Perhaps you are also, but never thought of it this way. Life is to be lived with purpose, courage, and a fierce determination about the legacies we create and how we will distinguish our lives from that of others. Much of the answers have to do with how far we can see into our future? Do we see books beyond our writing? Organizations beyond our activism? Schools of empowerment beyond our affirmations? Do we see the final product, structures, spaces, persons and players – primary and secondary? Are we radical enough in our planning, and/or our belief that we can accomplish much more beyond the conception of a new idea or thought? Do we trust ourselves enough to act on some of the revelations that occur to us frequently enough to be recurring? Here’s a bigger question: do we even consider ourselves worthy of the merit that would result if we were to follow through with the epiphanies and Aha! moments that we receive? Many self-help authors and coaches like to ask “What is holding you back?”, but my question, more pointedly, is would we be courageous enough, confident enough, gangsta’ (yes, gangsta!) enough to stand on what we believe, and take action? Some people call it moxie.
What if I told you that I also have incredible visions of many sorts, some of which I’ve been afraid to unveil for fear of it not sounding big enough, revolutionary enough, brilliant enough? You’d probably think, “don’t we all?” And the obvious answer is “Yes”; however, how and whether we act upon these visions is what distinguishes us from each other. Many of us have gifts and talents, innate in us, that we dismiss as insignificant or too small. In turn, our devaluation of these gifts and talents, inform our action or inaction. This valuation keeps some of us at bay, still thinking about our futures, while others who assign greater value and worth to their gifts and talents move forward. The latter bunch is also characterized by an ability to see their gifts and talents at work, and in context. This distinction undoubtedly separates those that are still thinking about their visions versus those that are doing something about their visions, despite not having all the answers. In turn, the degree to which we can see our futures, will make a big difference in whether the outcomes are ever achieved, and whether our ideas ever take off into tangible action.
The words of Steve Jobs aren’t new, per se, but the inspiration derived from them will reverberate in my mind until my visions are seen by more than just me. Until now, the contents of my vision were loosely stringed together, like bits and pieces of a novel, lying here and there; however, much of what Steve Jobs said, and much more of the tangible evidence he created as co-founder of one of the most innovative/coolest/hippest/brightest, and just plain ole smart and intuitive companies, is proof to me that when you’re on to something, and it just won’t let you go, then it’s probably best to “go with it!”
Given that, what will you do differently today and/or going forward? This isn’t a question that can be answered off the cuff, but I would love your feedback and energy on the subject as time permits, and what this reflection might mean for you.