Steve Jobs: Fearless

I just finished reading the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and there were at least three take-aways I got from his story. The first was Focus.  He was able to simplify and pare priorities down to the top two or three and then focus on them with laser-like intensity, drowning out the surrounding noise and distractions. The second characteristic of his that impressed me was his Fearlessness.

He was Fearless. He started the Apple company with just a circuit board. His partner, Steve Wozniak, designed the board and wanted to just give it away to people. But Jobs had a bigger, grander vision. He saw an opportunity to revolutionize home computing and he jumped in! He got his first sale of 500 Apple computers before he even had one built. He didn’t care. He knew he and Wozniak could figure it out. And they did. When he got ousted from Apple–his own company, no less– he started a new company called NeXT and secured capital investment money before he even had a tangible product. He was amazing at the proverbial “building the plane as it went down the runway.” Obviously, we all know that he eventually made it back to Apple, but he was now seasoned and wiser from his past mistakes. He didn’t let his failures swallow him. They only made him more hungry and determined to prove himself. And he definitely did NOT stop taking risks.

One example of his fearlessness was when they were developing the iPhone. They had started off by trying to adapt the iPod for use as a phone, but the first generation iPod’s had trackwheels and they couldn’t get the trackwheel to adapt to dialing phone numbers. The other option they were considering was a new touch-screen technology, but they weren’t sure they could execute the engineering. As Isaacson notes, the latter “was more exciting and promising. ‘We all know this is the one we want to do,’ said Jobs, pointing to the touchscreen, ‘So let’s make it work.’ It was what he liked to call a bet-the-company moment, high risk and high reward if it succeeded.” (p.469) The rest is history!

Would that I could be more fearless in the pursuit of my goals and dreams. I’m getting better, but I’ve played it way too safe for way too long. And I think “fearless” could also be translated “boldness”. So I encourage you to be fearless and bold, because I know you would do the same for me. Whether it’s starting that blog or that business, or pursuing that dream job and leaving the “safe” one, or even just sharing your smile or your faith, let’s be bold and fearless. Because in the immortal words of one of the Apple advertising campaigns, “The people who are crazy (or fearless or bold) enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (italicized words added)

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