5 lessons about work we can learn from Steve Jobs

The man who changed the world has left it, and it feels an emptier place.  Doesn’t it?

When he resigned as CEO of Apple 6 weeks ago I posted his now legendary Stanford speech on my blog, not expecting for him to be gone so soon. A case in point for how our lives are driven by purpose – and explains why it may feel like you’re wasting time if you haven’t found yours.

So here’s five lessons about work I think we can take from his extraordinary life –and  from a man who really LOVED WHAT HE DID.

Follow your heart

Steve’s heart took him away from conventional education, to India, towards design, to Apple, away from it, to Pixar, back to Apple, to creating a world that didn’t exist before. There’s a sense of truth, of ‘quest’ about him. He wasn’t going to waste his time on the planet doing something he didn’t want to do. And he risked things to follow that. People often say passion doesn’t pay, that doing what you love means the bills don’t get paid. Hm… really?? Could there be a chance you just haven’t been creative enough yet with how to make the money work.  Check out for example what Headspace did for the new-age-money-allergic world of meditation – and turned that on its head. And nobody was queuing outside a store to buy a phone before Apple came along!

Ditch the conventions

Jobs opened a Mac convention with this Wayne Gretzky quote ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ You don’t have to be a pioneering visionary or to want to change the world to make this philosophy your own. You’re most probably caging yourself in with some conventions, that could do with chucking out. For eg, you may think you’d love to be a psychologist but don’t fancy being locked away in an NHS consulting room – so look at how the psychologists on Big Brother changed that for themselves. Or you feel you need a lot of money to start your own business (says who?) . Or think you should do only do one thing for a living – when actually you fancy being an entrepreneur AND a poet AND an interior designer. Right?

Your lowest point maybe your turning point

Jobs said that being fired initially from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him; “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Easier to say in retrospect sure and a different perspective for Jobs in this instance.  But I do think failure can be the making of us. You’ve got to dig deep, you’ve got to see what you’re made of, you’ve got to look yourself in the eye, you’ve got to let go, you find out what really matters, you’ve got to decide to act, to change, to grow.

Talent trumps experience

Famous for being a control-freak, Jobs also took risks hiring employees who HADN’T been there, HADN’T done it, who didn’t have all the credentials and experience and glittering CV’s. Because he recognized TALENT, he could spot it, see it, unveil it, channel it. All truly visionary employers do this. Because they know that raw stuff can conceal something VERY VERY VERY SPECIAL. So, if not having the experience is holding you back, find a way to SHOWCASE your TALENT. That bit of course is down to you. But you’ve got to get out there for people to know you exist. Then its up to them to snap you up!

We’re going to die

That bit from his Stanford speech really affected me. It spot- lit so dramatically our transitory existence. And then HE DID DIE. And did that ever drum the message home. We’ve got to make it count, haven’t we. We can’t spend our lives in humdrum when there is so much we can do, so much we WANT TO DO. Right?

As a final farewell read these amazing tributes in Wired that poured in from all over the world. As the saying goes you are what people say about you when you are no longer in the room…

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