An artist or a poet would recognize the Steve Jobs story in a heartbeat. He was a general at the top of his powers whom was humiliatingly ousted from his army and sent into the wilderness to live via his wits alone. It’s an origin story that has it's roots in ancient times. After years in the scorching desert, he returns to his nearly defeated army and by force of pure will, transforms them into a blistering fighting machine that lays waste to the enemy, leaving them all in smoking ruins.
I’d say that a critical part of this story had to do with the life-changing transformation that came from his fall from grace and the toil and humility of fighting for his survival in a paradigm turned upside down and inside out. It’s a story of knowing deep in your soul that you are mortal and vulnerable. It’s a story of how someone responds to extreme adversity, which is why he had a nearly demented love/hate relationship with the underdogs of the universe, and fought relentlessly to institute the new paradigm he envisioned while in the depths of the desert wastelands.
Jobs had more than a vision, it was more like a burning insatiable hunger of transformation that had to do with leaving his rivals in a humbling and miserable ocean of mediocrity. In this sense, he had way more than an executive’s desire for manufacturing products. This was intensely personal, and is what drove him like a madman, because he knew intuitively that time was indeed short and one could be ejected at any time and he sure as hell didn’t want to find himself in the scorching wilderness again. That was a powerful lesson that he only needed to learn once, and he ran with it like a general leading an army whose days were numbered if they failed. There was nothing abstract or philosophical about any of it; this was about gut-wrenching survival, about overcoming the odds to win and win big.
Here's to you Steve Jobs, nicely done.
PS: In my opinion, Jobs seems way more comfortable navigating as a Taoist than a Buddhist, what with his shrewd strategies more closely resembling Sun Tzu than that of a Buddhist monk.
Story by Larry McNeil, Copyright 2011, All rights reserved.