When I read blogs and articles of what Steve Jobs taught us about leadership, creativity and innovation, I laugh. Not in a mocking way because I agree with most of the points made but because I have a totally different perspective. When I finally put down the Steve Jobs biography I was not thinking, “Oh how creative” this man was or, “What a great leader” he was. I thought what an asshole he was. He was a flawed genius who proved the theory of why nice guys rarely ever win.
Don’t try giving me that “don’t tarnish his memory” lecture. Can we be honest please? Overall, he had a dark side that complemented his talents that allowed him to accomplish all his great feats. It was an essential part of who he is. His flaws teach very important lessons of how to succeed in life particularly if you’re an entrepreneur or work in business.
If you want to change the world the Steve Jobs way, here are the three controversial things you may have to do to get there.
1. Get rid of all distractions – including family
Did you know Steve Jobs was a dead-beat dad? When Brennan got pregnant he made all sorts of excuses to avoid fatherhood. Then the baby finally arrived in which he decided to pop up briefly before leaving again and deciding he didn’t need to pay child support. Unfortunately, Apple was about to go public so he decided to settle the case to avoid the bad PR. Once all the details were signed off, he just went back to focusing on Apple. Years later, Steve and his daughter did eventually make up but this doesn’t excuse his initially actions.
He pretty much abandoned his responsibilities as a father to pursue his dream. He didn’t do distractions because he wanted to be focused and dedicate all his attention to achieving greatness and not playing family man. Obviously he regretted this later but ask yourself how far are you prepared to go to fulfil your dreams? Would you leave your spouse high and dry? Would you forgo all your family duties to go on a business trip to China for 6 months? If not then you are probably not ready to change the world because sacrifices must be made.
2. Be brutally honest
There were many times in the book where Steve was rude and offensive to both people he barely knew and to love ones. People who worked with him were shit-scared of his brutal honesty. Some say he was bipolar other simply called them mood swings. In this life we live, we are expected to be politically correct, this involves a lot of beating about the bush in order to avoid hurting people’s feelings. Steve didn’t stand for this, because he wanted to get things done and he didn’t care who got hurt. Maybe it is better you come to terms with the fact that you will inevitably piss people off in order to get far in life. It is a dog-eat-dog world anyways.
3. Ignore people’s advice
Steve Jobs had a habit of telling experts how to do stuff, even though he wasn’t the expert. He told advertising agencies how to make adverts. He told programmers how to design computer architecture. He told doctors how to run his chemotherapy (which probably got him killed but let’s not get into that). He was never swayed by expertise, he probably ignored good advice from credible people more times than not but always stuck to his guns.
When you want to have an impact or make a significant change in this world you will come up against conventional wisdom and experts who know it all. F*%k ‘em. Instead of accepting everything you read, question it and if you are told something, challenge it. Just because a reliable source says so or an expert supports it doesn’t mean it is set in stone. This is how technology breakthroughs happen and true innovation happens. This is how Steve Jobs happened.
Hopefully this inspires you to be a bit of an asshole once in a while so you can change the world like Steve Jobs did. Sometimes being the bad guy is what’s needed to get the right results.