October 5th has become a day of renewal and reflection for me. It’s almost a different version of New Year’s Day. Every year at this time I take pause to pay homage to Steve Jobs. Our world would not be what it is today without Jobs’s influence and even though he was pegged as a difficult person to work for, there is no doubt that he was a true leader.

He is indeed missed by those who best knew him. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, always celebrates his friend’s life with a Tweet on this day, which I always take comfort in. In this year’s tweet (shown below), Cook quotes Jobs as he reflected on time. Time is precious. There is no doubt about that. And it is time that keeps us moving forward. Last weekend I celebrated my 39th birthday. It was also my grandmother’s 93rd birthday. Too often we squander what has been given to us in regards to time and miss the point of the gift that is in front of us. In essense, we lack focus.

For the past six months, my place of employment (a nonprofit) has been going through a transitional period. We are in the process of redefining what our mission is and how we want to serve people through it. Our CEO  is having us all follow The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney. The book focuses on being able to make strategic organizational change with the emphasis placed on focusing on ‘wildly important goals.’ The author describes why execution fails within an organization and how we get “caught up in the whirlwind of urgent daily work that we’re distracted from our most vital goals.” This discipline of focus is not a new concept and it certainly isn’t new to the thousands of Steve Jobs fans who study his practices. In the process of reading some articles on Jobs in preparation of writing this year’s tribute, I came across a study that Walter Isaacson wrote for The Harvard Business Review in 2012. In it he said the following about Jobs’s discipline of focus and how he felt about it in relation to running a company. 

“Focus was ingrained in Jobs’s personality and had been honed by his Zen training. He relentlessly filtered out what he considered distractions. Colleagues and family members would at times be exasperated as they tried to get him to deal with issues—a legal problem, a medical diagnosis—they considered important. But he would give a cold stare and refuse to shift his laserlike focus until he was ready.

Near the end of his life, Jobs was visited at home by Larry Page, who was about to resume control of Google, the company he had cofounded. Even though their companies were feuding, Jobs was willing to give some advice. “The main thing I stressed was focus,” he recalled. Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up, he told Page. “It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great.” Page followed the advice. In January 2012 he told employees to focus on just a few priorities, such as Android and Google+, and to make them “beautiful,” the way Jobs would have done.”

Isaacson, Walter. “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs.” Harvard Business Review, 29 Oct. 2014, https://hbr.org/2012/04/the-real-leadership-lessons-of-steve-jobs.

I was blown away by this description as it aligns perfectly with The 4 Disciplines of Execution concepts. So it would seem that this Jobs inspired people with his methods of leadership long before this wildly popular guide for organizational change was published. It’s just one of the many ways that Jobs influenced the world we have today. And one of the many ways we can regain that focus in our lives — both personal and professional — so that we don’t miss the point of our lives.

The article I read by Isaacson was titled, “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs.” I encourage anyone who wants to be inspired to do ‘one more thing’ or be one of ‘the crazy ones’ to read it. Jobs’s lessons will live on much longer than the company he built. I believe this is his true legacy. 

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