For his retaking of Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs had a poem composed as the guiding theme of his comeback – it marked the core of the company’s “think different” philosophy and saw the birth of all products from the imac to the ipad, leading Apple from the verge of bankruptcy to becoming the most valuable firm in the world on January 25, 2012.
The poem reads:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Many glorify Steve Jobs, and consider him to have transformed many an industry and contributed to “push the human race forward”. Yet others vilify him, arguing that he was controversial, cynical, and had a passion for controlling other people. May be all true. But take a closer look at the last sentence in the poem: “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Three steps to changing the world
Dare to dream
There is no recipe for creating dreams. They just come to you. But there is a logic behind them. An artist would say it has to do with inspiration, that is the “unconscious burst of creativity (…). Literally, the word means breathed upon”. A philosopher would speak about the love for beauty. Somebody from TED would call a dream an idea worth spreading. Or the famous book author C.S. Lewis would call dreaming being “surprised by joy”. Daring to dream means being open for inspiration and beauty. A dream is something personal and unique. It suggests a course of action to take, a way of changing things for the better or a search for something still unknown. In its first stages it is still unclear but the dreamer knows that the dream can keep on going, or he or she can simply wake up to the status quo. Keeping a dream alive is then the next step. Steve Jobs was always inspired by the perfect craftsmanship he learned in the garage of his adoptive father. It was part of his vision to create beautifully crafted objects. Until he started Apple, however, he did not know how he was going to implement that.
Follow your dreams
The status quo offers security, safety. The status quo is a world which I know. It’s my comfort zone. Following a dream means going through the fog of uncertainty, because it requires making decisions which change the status quo in and around me. Here is where most people give up. Michelangelo says “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”. The task of the person following his or her dreams means overcoming resistance, moving against the current and doing things which other people would not do. The founder of Apple always insisted in making the interior part of the computers as beautiful as possible, although it was more costly to do so and didn’t add any value to the product. It was simply his dream, and he made it.
Ideas worth spreading always carry a positive impact for other people. Keeping the benefit for others as a goal of your dream helps avoid manipulating others for selfish purposes; it means helping people understand. An old Chinese proverb says “tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand”. By helping people understand, your dream could be leading others to discover their own unique dreams, and thus you have begun to change the world. In his quest for beautifully crafted computers Steve Jobs changed the status quo by shifting the focus on manufacturing to the design of computers instead. As a side effect, the supremacy of design over engineering is something which revolutionized the industry.
Steve Jobs is simply a small example of somebody who was crazy enough to follow his dream – not without controversy, however! He had to go against the current, do things people did not like and do things he regretted himself. But in a way, he was able to inspire others and, as many will argue to some extent, was able to change the world.