Like many of my fellow creatives and tech junkies, I was shocked and saddened to learn that Steve Jobs had passed away yesterday. I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I mourned the passing of a CEO of a company. Then again, there haven’t been many CEO’s like Steve Jobs.
Everyone is going to be using the same words to describe this man’s life: genius, visionary, creative, inventor, innovator. They all apply and it is difficult to really understand the scope of the impact Jobs has had and will have on the way we interact with technology and each other.
My 2 year old nephew can easily navigate and operate an Apple Ipad. “Ipad” was one of the first words I heard him say. The technology in that device, the touch screen and motion control, will be as foundational in his experience with computers as the keyboard and mouse was to me when I was a kid. That blows my mind. It’s Jobs’ vision that put that technology at my nephew’s tiny fingertips.
The most interesting thing is having witnessed the changes that have occurred as a result of his ideas in real time. I can read about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, two of the men Jobs has been compared to, and their accomplishments, while obviously significant, feel detached. I grew up always having the convenience of their contributions. I don’t know what life is like without automobiles or light bulbs.
Seeing the process of innovation happen before my eyes has brought it to an understandable and accessible human level away from the supernatural folklore that history has a way of painting things. Reading in books about the sweeping changes that have occurred from the vision, creativity, hard work and down right stubbornness at times of certain people, I am sometimes left with a feeling that they had something else up their sleeve. As if they had a fist full of magic beans that guaranteed their success when the thing they really held tightly to where no one else could see is the conviction to follow through with ideas they truly believed in.
It gives me hope that I can make changes in the established ideas I hold on to that I don’t yet realize are holding me back. When a pattern of mediocrity reveals itself in my life the decision is either to change things or to remain where things are comfortable. When old ways of thinking and doing fail to propel me forward, new methods and new ideas are the path to a future I didn’t even know existed. A future where I don’t let the good get in the way of the great.
I’m sad to see Steve go, but I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore. It’s strange that in dying he proves one more thing: That he was human just like the rest of us. If he can make an impact on a global level to the lives of millions, then I have no excuse to not make an impact on my little corner of the universe.