Fast Company

11 Life Lessons I Learned From Steve Jobs

Whether you’re building a tech startup, raising three kids, or running a soup kitchen, Steve Jobs's indelible philosophies serve as a roadmap to success.

He's been called the modern day Thomas Edison, the Beethoven of business, and the most prolific visionary since Henry Ford. Yet as Steve Jobs steps down from the helm of Apple, he has left us with so much more than incredible technology.

Jobs completely transformed the industries of personal computing, digital animation (Pixar), music, mobile phones, and now tablets. He created the most valuable company in the world and impacted the way billions of people live their daily lives. But beyond his accomplishments, he’s taught us lessons in leadership and life. The characteristics he embodied can serve as a roadmap for us all to become better not only in business, but in our communities, families, and personal achievements.

For all us kids from 1 to 92, Jobs's guiding principles can help us live our best life and make the biggest difference:

1) Put Passion First 
He followed his heart and let the operational details fall into place. He refused to put a governor on his burning desire to reach new heights.

2) Never Limit Your Imagination 
He always imagined the ideal solution or product and never cut corners or watered down his most potent ideas due to setbacks or fear.

3) Pursue Greatness Over Money 
Jobs didn’t chase the mighty dollar. Rather, he focused on making the biggest possible impact and the money followed.

4) Demand Excellence 
Critics complain of his exacting style and “unrealistic” demands. There’s a natural gravitational force of mediocrity, and sometimes it takes an aggressive stance to rise above the sea of sameness.

5) Put Yourself Out of Business 
Jobs was never satisfied, and constantly strove to be the force of disruptive change that would make the Steve Jobs of six months ago irrelevant. Never clinging to past successes, he maintained intense urgency around continuous reinvention.

6) Challenge Conventional Wisdom  
When there were norms, he lived to shatter them. Nearly every step of his success can be traced to inspired thinking that stuck his finger in the eye of the complacent incumbents.

7) Simplify
‘Nuff said.

8) Ignore the Naysayers 
If he listened to the “sound advice” of others, we’d never even know his name. He never let the fear of others interfere with his own trajectory.

9) Persist 
While today he sits victorious, there were many times he nearly lost it all. There were dark days at Apple, Pixar, and even in his personal life. Where others throw in the towel, Steve stared into the abyss and never accepted defeat.

10) Never Pigeonhole 
Steve wasn’t a “computer executive.” He was a visionary change agent and could not be constrained. He realized his calling was far beyond any categorical label.

11) Push Beyond What You Think is Possible 
When Steve heard “that can’t be done,” it only emboldened his resolve. He constantly drove himself and others to reach new heights.

Whether you’re building a tech startup, raising three kids, or running a soup kitchen, these indelible philosophies serve as a roadmap to success. While you may organize your thoughts on your MacBook, communicate with your team on your iPhone, and later relax with some tunes on your iPod, the impact of Steve Jobs is far greater than the devices he’s provided. Rather, he’s given us a model to reach our full potential.

Steve famously said he wanted to “put a ding in the universe.” You have done that, my friend, and so much more. The impact you’ve made is immeasurable, and has inspired a generation to “think different.” Thank you for taking the path less travelled, for conquering the never-been-done, and for leading with purpose. Thank you for changing the world.

For more insight on Creativity and Innovation, please visit www.JoshLinkner.com


Check out Design Crazy: Good Looks, Hot Tempers, and True Genius at Apple, our captivating oral history of the company that "taught the world taste." The ebook is available through Apple, Amazon, and Byliner.

[Image: Flickr user Sigalakos]

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1 Comments

  • Charles Stuart Real Estate

    Steve Jobs is undoubtedly an inspiration. Then again, it's easy to idolize successful people. In truth, we don't know the full story of his rise to the top, and all the contributing factors.