cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by carriera01
Steve Jobs uttered many catchphrases and memorable quotes over his years as CEO of (arguably) the most innovative company on planet earth. In recent years, audiences around the world would tune in to his keynote addresses to discover what revolutionary ‘one more thing’ Jobs would charismatically unveil. As memorable as the many products and inventions Steve shared with us over the years, is the pure delight he displayed at the opportunity to bring them to us!
Many wonderful tributes will be spoken and written in the coming days by those who were privileged enough to know Steve Jobs personally, or remember the beginnings of Jobs’ indelible influence on his company, his industry, and his world. In the scheme of things, I am a relatively recent Apple ‘convert’ (though I do remember holding the 1st generation iPod Touch on the day of its Canadian release and feeling like nothing short of a magician as I demonstrated it for family and friends!) but I stand with many who appreciate his staggering accomplishments and recognize what an inspiration he has been to his generation. After hearing of his passing earlier today, I am prompted to reflect on the subject of legacy–the ‘one more thing’ that remains at the end of a remarkable life.
If we define legacy as a gift ‘handed down’ after our passing, it is logical to consider what ‘gifts’ Steve Jobs has left for us? Will we remember him for his aesthetic sensibilities and attention to detail? For his emphasis on ‘user experience’ with each new Apple product he helped to develop? Or perhaps, his inspirational battle with cancer and his many motivational speeches to students? Will it be the 300+ patents he holds for breakthroughs such as the computer mouse and the iPod click-wheel? The president of the United States, Barrack Obama, suggested earlier today that “there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented” (National Post). Members of his family are quoted as saying that “In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family” (Washington Post). I would suggest that acclaim and wealth pale in comparison to the truth implied by these final eight words–Jobs was keenly aware that people are to be valued most of all.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed the passing of several close family members and experienced the inevitable clinging to memories that follows such losses, as I’m sure have we all. Each time I’m reminded of my own mortality, I’m forced to ponder what gifts I will bestow upon those who succeed me. What will be my legacy? What will be your legacy? As a father, husband, teacher, son, I hope that I will be remembered as a man who loved generously, worked passionately, and lived faithfully and vibrantly. As we seek to digest the meaning of Steve Jobs’ life and death in these coming days, I suggest that we would honour him best by focusing on what he valued and who he loved.
In his commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of 2005, after already confronting and surviving pancreatic cancer for the first time, Jobs spoke these words. I believe that they speak volumes about how he was able to consistently marvel us with his creativity and share his passion–his delight–for technology and the ways it connects us to one another:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Thanks, Steve! Thanks for helping us to ‘Think Differently!’