What You Can Learn from Steve Jobs

painted-desertDo you remember the first time you listened to an iPod?

I certainly do.

It was eleven years ago and I sat at the back seat of a bus.

John Lennon’s “Imagine” echoed through the speakers. It sent chills down my spine.

It seemed strange then to imagine a machine carrying a thousand songs in your pocket.

It doesn’t seem so strange now…

I finished the biography of Steve Jobs about a week ago. Here’s three lessons you can learn from one of the most influential men of the 21st century.


Vision feeds creativity

Jobs morphed his passion for technology with his obsessive love for design.

But more than that, he had a vision. A clear vision of a digital hub – a place where all your technical devices could dance together in harmony.

He used his creativity to support this vision. Creativity is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but no one seems to know what it means.

Steve Jobs, however, knows what he’s talking about.

In his own words:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.

So you can forget originality. Creativity is about creating something new and useful that others can’t see.

It’s connecting the dots.

What do you see that others don’t? What do you want to connect?

This is your unique vision: your very own way of interpreting the world you live in. It’s time to get creative and connect the dots, so that your vision can become a reality.

Why is vision so important? Because it’s your legacy and it will outlive you.

Jobs knew this lesson well as the ticking clock of death kept knocking on his door.

He wanted his vision to live on after his death, but for that wish to come true, he had to implement intense focus.

Focus sharpens the mind

I share Steve Jobs’ devotion to focus and simplicity.

Frankly, I think they’re underestimated.

We live in a time where we are overwhelmed with information, gadgets and new technologies. Our minds are busy and our bodies are tense. Jobs knew we needed clean, focused design to do the heavy lifting for us.

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.

Focus sharpens the mind and it helps us to work on what truly matters.

Trim down the fat and get back to the essentials.

What can do you in 20 minutes or less? If you can’t complete the task in that time, it’s too big and you need to cut it down.

You can move mountains if you live a simple life with intense focus on your vision.

It worked for Steve Jobs, and most likely it will for work for you, too.

But Steve Jobs exhibited one other vital ingredient. He was brave.

It’s his most important life lesson, if you ask me, and it’s one that we turn to now.

Courage to live your life, not someone else’s

Jobs lived his life on his own terms.

He was brave and took risks. He didn’t worry what others would think or say. He felt the fear and did it anyway, no matter how scared he was.

How could he display such courage? What motivated him?

This is what he has to say:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

It’s a morbid idea, but death is your best friend.

Accept your own mortality and let it inspire you to do great things.

After all, that’s the great lesson from Steve Jobs.

The 3 simple and focused lessons from Steve Jobs

  1. Use creativity to support your vision.
  2. Sharpen your focus and keep it simple, stupid.
  3. Be brave, follow your own voice, and do it anyway (remember your immortality).


After finishing the book, “Imagine” played on my iPhone again.

I listened to it and shed a tear, knowing it had once been on Steve Jobs’ iPod, too.

Is it on yours?

Let us know what’s on your iPod and share your unique vision in the comments.

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