I don’t mean that I want work. I want some Jobs, as in Steve Jobs. I want his imagination, focus and determination.
I just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs. It’s enormous and wonderful. I started it expecting that it would take me a month to work through its 571 pages. I assumed I would have to muddle through some mundane parts or gloss over technical things I wouldn’t understand, but I didn’t. I inhaled every word from the introduction through the acknowledgments. Rarely does a book engage me so fully.
I wish I had known Jobs. I wish I could have heard him speak. I wish I had witnessed his intensity firsthand. I never paid attention to the releases of Apple products – or any products really. I wish I had paid attention to the phenomenon known as Apple and the “crazy” driving force behind its ingenuity.
This book got me wondering again if you have to be a little “off” to be brilliant. How many truly creative types are there in the world who have been described as normal people?
Jobs was not normal. He had eccentric eating habits and a temper. He yelled and cried at work. He created tension and drama in all his spheres of influence. But he loved the intersection of art and science, and he insisted that every Apple product be a combination of the two. He built two empires on that passion. When asked whether Apple should conduct a market study, he refused, taking the position that people couldn’t know what they wanted until Apple showed them. To make a statement like that takes a unique brand of arrogance. And Jobs had that.
The book opens with a quote from Apple’s “Think Different” commercial of 1997. It says, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I want to be one of those crazy people, but I fear I may be too normal to do anything hugely imaginative. Can the kind of lunacy that encourages creativity be developed? Maybe I should eat nothing but carrots for a month and stop wearing shoes and work on my yelling voice. No, I don’t like people who yell, and I like food, and I have no interest in being a barefoot runner. Plus, I think the kind of lunacy I want can’t be contrived. It should be authentic.
Do I even have an inner lunatic? Can it be unleashed? I hope so. I was sitting here wondering whether Steve Jobs would agree, but I’m 100% confident that it would never have occurred to him to ask such a question. He would have been far too busy doing things to sit and wonder whether there was something he could or couldn’t do.
Maybe the lesson is to be a doer, no matter what. Just be a doer. A doer of what exactly? I don’t know yet. But I’m making it my business to figure that out.