The first I’d ever heard anything about Steve Jobs, (founder of Apple Inc) was during his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech. I found him to be wise, and intuitive. I was curious about the strong backlash about his character after he passed away.
His message “love what you do, and don’t settle…for all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it.” He told graduates “don’t waste your limited time living someone else’s life, don’t be trapped by dogma – living with the results of other people’s thinking…have the courage to follow your heart, and intuition, they somehow already know who you truly want to become.”
When Steve lost his fight with cancer in 2011 at age 56, this speech began to circulate everywhere, along with his pre-dominantly difficult, sometimes horrible treatment of people that seemed to say “you have to be an egomaniac control nut to be a successful visionary”.
What stood out for me was how he gave himself permission to trust, and follow his own creative genius making a massive impact along the way. It’s not so easy in a world where we seek control, and stability. For creativity to be successful, it seems to need both qualities – imagination, and control, but becoming the kind of character to get both right seems to be hit, and miss.
Having come from an accounting background, I’d run across my fair share of outright mean behaviour among the business world. Those with huge visions, and talent, when given a position of power, can sometimes use it in an abusive, and controlling ways. It’s as if being a decent human being gets thrown by the wayside, and somehow justified in the name of results.
This tendency for aggression, and a lack of human connection would continue to astound me among some leaders in the coaching world, not to mention the political leaders who lead with a dictatorship. How could the same individual who was intelligent, hard working with a strong sense of passion to help people, and make a difference not get when they were being a complete jerk?
It seemed that success, and power could also breed blindness the same way ‘falling in love” does.
I wondered what was true, and wasn’t about Steve’s character. What was underneath driving him to treat others so badly?
I recently watched the 2015 film Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender, and Kate Winslet. It introduced new aspects of his life I hadn’t known. I could understand how, for example, his adoption may have affected his poor behaviour (not as an excuse), but as a driver.
Not being wanted at birth can do a lot of messing with your mind. I wondered how someone whose parents worked hard to afford him going to college could deny his own daughter basic needs to live comfortably when you could so easily give.
There’s no doubt, Steve’s behaviour towards his first daughter’s early years was neglectful, irresponsible, and uncaring. And his relationship with his former girlfriend who rightfully demanded financial support seems much more complex than meets the eye.
I’d experienced firsthand how the ego can influence someone’s mind as they rise to success into someone you no longer recognize, and sometimes have to walk away from. Was this Steve?
It’s so easy to judge, and say “what a jerk”, but when you see both sides of the coin – all that’s left is to give space so people can hopefully learn from their own painful lessons.
Steve eventually forged a relationship with his daughter paying her Harvard tuition, and she was at his bedside when he passed away. I was left from the movie with a deeper understanding of this man’s inner motivations, and character.
There’s a scene where Steve’s young daughter is listening to the song “Both Sides Now” – I’d listened to it many times as a teen on my portable cassette Sony walkman trying to figure out what the lyrics meant.
The whole song felt a bit pessimistic back then having grown up in a positive environment that valued education highly, and where “one right answer” seemed to rule. I had written out the lyrics in a small journal of favourite songs.
Today, the song’s wisdom is clear. How we see things one way, and then experience an opposite way while trying to make sense of it all only to arrive at the last line: “I really don’t know life at all.” This is where curiosity leaves us…asking more questions. Both sides are real, so how will you respond? With judgment, or curiosity?
This becomes our journey of life that makes it forever interesting. Being willing to see more than one side, and not imposing our “right way” onto other people or getting trapped in our own box. We still get to choose which way works for us, and what doesn’t.
One thing I know for sure: love, connection, and real success are yours to experience when you allow your perception to see through your spiritual eyes of curiosity, and away from the ego’s need to control that can lead to ill treatment of others.
Your own creative genius has space to explore in that glorious sense of wonder where there’s no judgment. Are you willing to see ‘both sides now’?