Saturday, October 8, 2011
I was honored to meet and work with Steve Jobs in 1984 as I led a project to enhance the capabilities of the information systems powering the new Macintosh factory in Fremont, California. I was but a small star in Steve’s large universe, but it was a privilege to see first hand bits and pieces of his genius that would make a profound impact on my life. It was only fitting that my iPhone, a brilliant example of his bold creativity and attention to product excellence, would deliver a news alert about his passing Wednesday afternoon.
In our home, I counted one old Apple II (a part of my personal computer museum), three Macintosh computers, one iPhone, one iPad, a whole raft of iPods, and several Pixar movies as tangible examples of his affect on our lives. Yes, we directly benefited from Steve’s genius.
As I pondered his death and considered my own mortality (I am two years older than he), I was impressed by Steve’s insight that he shared in his famous Stanford commencement address:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
“To Follow Your Heart” is great advice, but not always easy to follow. I have found myself deeply reflecting on that advice during the past few days. In the things which matter most – family and faith – I have followed my heart and have been blessed beyond measure. But I must admit that professionally, I wonder. Am I really engaged in the right things which will deliver the most value to my fellow beings and bring the most joy? Should I soldier on, or make significant changes? What does my heart really say?
Thank you, Steve, for sharing your world-changing genius with all of us. And thank you for triggering the deep introspection of the past few days. May you rest in peace.
And than you, Jonathan Mak, for your inspiring logo tribute to Steve.