The Lessons of Steve Jobs: the Road Not Taken

The Lessons of Steve Jobs: the Road Not Taken

 

 The Lessons of Steve Jobs: the Road Not Taken

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is the final verse of Robert Frost’s most-known poem The Road Not Taken. It can be interpreted in many ways, but standing on its own, this verse perfectly encapsulates Steve Jobs’ philosophy of life. He always wanted to pursue not what seemed to be the right choice, but rather simply what felt right. His passion originated often in a dream.

When he got jolted out of his own company, Jobs saw the defeat as the best thing ever to happen in his life. It forced him to think outside the box, rethink his life, and pursue new dreams with the same fervor that started Apple. From this a mighty tree grew, and from its fruits came one immensely successful venture.

Pixar is now part of the Disney Corporation, after the latter took it over for the tidy sum of $7 billion. Yet, of great import is not the financial security it gave Jobs. When he bought the computer division of Lucasfilm, George Lucas failed to see any value in it. Jobs acquired the division for just $10 million, and transformed it to place where “art meets technology.” That is the quintessence of what Pixar stands for.

With NeXT he took another road less traveled by, unfortunately one that would lead to ruin. From the ashes rises a phoenix, though, and Apple acquired NeXT, including Steve Jobs. At that point his baby was hurting bad after a series of failed management decisions. In 1987, he resolved to start a new company with his own money. For $100,000 he was able to bring onboard Paul Rand, who also designed the corporate identity for the likes of IBM, UPS, and Enron. The logo represented a flat and modern look with pastel colors.

The name NeXT was, of course, part of Steve Jobs’ philosophy. He never wanted to settle for what’s possible now, but instead think forward, and be prepared for any new innovation coming one’s way. Yet his greatest achievement is perhaps the further development of the Pixar computer, and the production of Toy Story. It became a blockbuster, garnering an Oscar. It was also the first feature film fully generated inside a computer — the start of a new art form. Art truly met with technology.

“To strive, to seek, to find and to never yield.”

Steve Jobs never yielded, even in the face of cancer. He fought as long as he could. Notwithstanding his shortcomings as a human being, he enriched the lives of so many. Even his well-known adversary Bill Gates, seemed humbled reminiscing over the achievements of Jobs. Three products stand out as innovative powers in different industries: the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad.

Ultimately, humans are creatures of habit. Those who ignore their habits sometimes discover something new. Jobs always learned something new, and never stopped when his curiosity was satisfied. Night-long working marathons were normal in the early days of Macintosh development.

Passion isn’t all, though. Talent isn’t all, either. When either of these are combined with aptitude, they can lead to great achievements. I personally thought that I could be the next great photographer, yet my core competency was never visual expression, but rather storytelling. Now, here I am, having found my way back to my initial passion: writing. This is the story of many people who are good at one thing, but choose to pursue the wrong aim. Even Steve Jobs was guilty of this, yet it’s why he continued to succeed. Mistakes are a necessity on the path to victory.

However, there must come a time when mistakes are fairly scarce. This can only occur if one learns from the past. In 2005, when he gave the commencement speech to the graduating class at Stanford University, Steve Jobs ended with these words: “Stay hungry; stay foolish.” So, in essence, it means that sometimes you need to take the road less traveled by to get to know yourself better, and your limits. Beyond that, only the sky should be the limit. 

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