A few weeks ago I was asked an interesting question about what inspires me. As I thought about my answer, I realized that for me it isn't a person but rather an action that I find most inspirational. The people around the world who have an idea and decide to do something about it deserve to be celebrated. Entrepreneurship itself is the thing that I find most inspirational.
Last night as I was watching all the media coverage honoring Steve Jobs and his life, it got me thinking that perhaps his biggest impact on the world wasn't just the products that he helped create, but rather in showing the world just how much people can achieve when they are inspired. Inspiration itself can be like that – a lightning rod that takes an army of smart people and helps them create something real. To me, his power to inspire came down to three things:
- Passion – By all reports of the people who worked with him, he lived and breathed the products that his company would work on. He would call engineers in the middle of the night, stress over a font or color choice and sometimes micromanage those small details. Still because of that passion and desire to be involved in the day to day work – not only could he make the products better, but he knew the products so well that when it came time to introduce them on stage to the world he wouldn't need to rely on bullet points prepared for him by product specialists.
- Purpose – With every new product release, you got the sense that Apple was focused on changing the world in some new way. The ecosystem that each of the products allowed, from new operating systems to iTunes to the billion dollar market for Apps were all poised to make a big impact on how each of us experiences the world. This was the higher purpose behind Apple, and you could see it through the products they released.
- Simplicity – When asked by biographers about what made Apple so powerful, one thing Steve Jobs always pointed to was the fact that Apple had always been a company which made less than 10 products. This extreme focus on simplicity carried through in his conversations with employees and how he would present products to the public. Simplicity can inspire because you strip away everything that is unimportant. What you are left with is a big idea which can move people.
No doubt there will be countless books, articles and stories written about Steve Jobs and his impact over the coming years. For me, the biggest lesson I learned from watching and reading about Steve Jobs is the power of inspiration and how it can lead people to change the world.
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