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Articles: On The Death of Steve Jobs

Steve's death may create more commentary than any business leader's death in history. He was certainly an iconic figure, and unquestionably impacted most of our lives. For me, the question for each of us is what we choose to learn from his life and death.

In my opinion, one of Steves greatest achievements was demonstrating that things can be done in a different way than what is generally accepted as the right way. He eschewed focus groups and research and data in favor of what felt right to him. In virtually every case, the new products Apple came out with were not brand new concepts, they simply took the previous concepts and made them work in a much more understandable way than their predecessors. He understood what we wanted before we even knew it, which was ultimately his greatest genius.

Steve created a culture at Apple that will continue on for many years. The risk for them is whether they gradually revert back to the ways of every other corporation and start listening to focus groups and pundits and so-called experts and power users, rather than continue on the path that Steve blazed for them. Obviously only time will tell, but his imprint was so strong and so deep that its hard to imagine that happening any time soon. Ultimately, he was just one man in what is now a very large company, and he hardly did everything by himself. But he successfully created a culture, and that culture will continue on.

Other than the products he helped bring to market, the biggest reminder he provided for me is that humanitys collective ideas as to what is proper or needed or acceptable are not necessarily any more correct than our individual ideas of same. In other words, everyone does it that way is no more of a reason to do something than if your neighbor or crazy Uncle Bob does something in a particular way. Steve did things his way, and more often than not they turned out to be pretty damn good ways to do it.

Otherwise, what impacts me most about his death is the idea of what it all meant. Once a life is over, I tend to wonder what that was all about. Is there any meaning besides, they were here, and now theyre not?

My answer to that involves the word legacy. The human race is like a huge pyramid; one that is constantly growing upward, built upon all the people who came before us. Occasionally, someone comes along who impacts a far larger number of us than most. Steve was one of those. His legacy will be felt for a long time. And that, ultimately, is what life is really all about. We are all part of that great big pyramid. And we will all pass someday. So the only question is, what is the legacy youll be leaving? Is it something worthwhile? Is it something that will be remembered, whether by a few or many?

Steve is leaving a legacy of a size that is achieved by very few people. While he, like all of us, had his faults, you cant ever take that away from him. And for that, we should all be grateful, and impressed.

In the end, however, he may have said it best about death in a speech at Stanford:

In the speech, Jobs told three stories from his life -- including his feelings on being fired from Apple in 1985 -- and mused on major themes like life, love and death. His comments on death seem particularly poignant:

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'"

"And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven dont want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life."

"It is lifes change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."

"Your time is limited, so dont waste it living someone elses life. Dont be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other peoples thinking. Dont let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
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