A conversation the other day with a friend turned to the topic of employees and how hard it is to get good people to build a team. Drawing from my years in corporate America, I certainly understand. Some would say my friend is too particular and hard to work for. Some have said the same thing about me. An administrative assistant who did work for me but didn’t report to me once said she didn’t think she could work for me. I wasn’t flattered, and I figure we would have worked just fine together, but it does say something about personalities and success.
I explained to my friend that we are both harder to work for than the norm because we are picky. Being picky isn’t wrong or bad. It is usually what sets the successful and effective apart from the pack. But there is a big difference between picky and insulting.
A TV show yesterday featuring an overbearing employer who was picky about everything and hurled insults at everyone who didn’t meet his standards reminded me of the Steve Jobs biography. Despite of all his success and impact on the world, I would not have wanted to with him as his boss or subordinate.
While being particular is a definite key to success, respecting and appreciating others is much more important. No matter what we are doing, we can’t just be in it for material gain. There is other gain beyond this world.
After reading and pondering the life of Steve Jobs, I’ve reached a few conclusions that should speak to us all. It appears to me that Jobs’ entire life was a quest for inner peace. From his obsession with simple, Zen-like designs (of which I am very fond) to his deep involvement with Buddhism, he was constantly searching for tranquility.
He admitted his religion of choice did not bring him peace. So I believe his quest flowed over into every other part of his life. He steadfastly surrounded himself with simplicity even through his strange eating habits. His home, at least up until his marriage, was VERY sparsely furnished because he couldn’t find anything simple enough.
It was as if he was filled with a world of chaos of which he fought earnestly to rid himself. My first thought in response to this conclusion is the typical Christian response of “he was looking in all the wrong places.” And he was, but we don’t make the right place to look very evident or appealing sometimes.
While we are given a “peace that surpasses all understanding,” how often do we truly live that way? How do we respond to the chaos in our lives, external or internal? Does it direct others to the right source of peace?
Not to imply Steve Jobs was ordinary or relatively common. He was indeed a unique person. Incredibly intelligent, but also incredibly successful. At his level, the two don’t often go hand in hand. But let’s generalize it a bit.
How can someone so intelligent and capable of monetary success and popularity miss the boat on the most important thing in life? How do they get sucked in by things like drugs and Buddhism? Even on his death-bed, Jobs speculated that life was life an on-off switch, “Click! And you’re gone.”
It is a sad story. While he knew very much what he wanted from a business perspective, Jobs seemed to live a life of searching. Loyal to Buddhism most of his years, but still it did not bring him peace. It’s as if somewhere deep down inside he knew there was more. He did express a desire to believe in God and an afterlife near the end, but never quite got there. How is that possible?
Here are some explanations:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:19-22
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.” Jeremiah 5:21
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
I guess ignorance truly can be bliss.
Some of my recent finds.
The long anticipated announcement of the iPhone 4S came this week. Probably the most anticipated smart phone announcement ever. But it hasn’t always been that way. Apple fans were, of course excited about the first iPhone, but many others scoffed and criticized. It cost too much. Why is Apple making a cell phone? Just recently even the CEO of Sony Ericsson admitted they should have taken the iPhone more seriously.
An even more skeptical reaction occurred when Apple introduced the iPad a couple of years ago. Even Apple fans didn’t see much use for it. I thought it was a little silly myself, especially the name. But last Christmas I decided I couldn’t live without one. Now I’m rarely without it.
Steve Jobs and Apple are an excellent example of ignoring the cynics and moving ahead. Innovation has to do that. Every great inventor and innovator throughout history has been laughed at and criticized for their ideas.
All that makes me wonder how many times we as individuals and the collective church fail to be innovative because of people’s reactions or their anticipated reactions. I’m not advocating not listening to good counsel and advice, but too often we just don’t want to deal with negative, critical people so we stick with the status quo or move like molasses waiting for everyone to get on the bandwagon. By the time we reach the goal it is no longer innovative; everyone else is doing it, and we’ve lost the edge God wanted to give us.
God is innovative. Everything he does is fresh and new, when and if we let him lead the way. Ignore the scoffers and move forward with wherever you feel he is leading.