The entire technology world has collectively mourned this past week, the recent passing away of Steve Jobs. There have been numerous eulogies (most of them very well written) but the most important ones will always remain the personal anecdotes about Jobs. I myself mourned his loss with this tribute, and readers of this blog and my tumblr have probably read the countless posts I’ve written on Jobs, his words, and his work.
But, I think it’s easy to deify the man with all those eulogies and forget what he really stood for. I though John Lilly from Greylock Partners really nailed it by putting things in the right perspective.
I’m a little uncomfortable with the outpouring of sentiment about people who want to be like Steve. There’s a sort of beatification going on that I think misses the point. He was never a nostalgic man at all, and I can’t help but feel like he would think this posthumous attention was, in a lot of ways, a waste — seems like he’d have wanted people to get back to inventing.
Amen to that. I think this echoes one of my favorite essays of all time – Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson – which Emerson begins with:
To believe in your own thought, to believe what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton, is that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men, but what they thought. A man, should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament from bards and sages.
So, what would Jobs do? John’s post, borrows from Naval’s tweet, summarizes thus:
Be yourself and work as hard as you can to bring wonderful things into the world. Figure out how you want to contribute and do that, in your own way, on your own terms, as hard as you can, as much as you can, as long as you can.
Oddly enough, that line reminds me of another line from Self Reliance and I think this is a great message to takeaway with us, as we aim to accomplish the best that we can, in our chosen lines of work — with passion, dedication and integrity.
Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place that providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating through all their being.
So, let’s get out there and kick some butt! And, really make a difference in our lives and that of the people around us. Thank You, Steve!