I was saddened this week to read about the health-related resignation of Steve Jobs as the CEO of Apple, inc. Mr. Jobs, one of the great visionary entrepreneurs in the history of American business, always spoke proudly about how his failures were what motivated and inspired him to achieve his greatest successes. As a film maker, I have always found that sentiment to be incredibly powerful because, as in all artistic, entrepreneurial activities, failure is an both an inevitable and important teacher and partner for film makers.
I then ran across an amazing, inspiring article by Nick Schultz, that beautifully captured the essence of Mr. Jobs and his extraordinary successes and failures. It reads, in part:
“Steve Jobs failed better than anyone else in Silicon Valley, maybe better than anyone in corporate America. By that I mean Jobs did what only the greatest entrepreneurs can do: learn from their failures. I don’t mean learn from their mistakes. I mean learn from their abject, humiliating, bonehead, epic fails.
Everyone today thinks of Jobs as the genius who gave us the iPod, MacBooks, the iTunes store, the iPhone, the iPad, and so on. Yes, he transformed personal computing and multimedia. But let’s not forget what else Jobs did.
Jobs (along with Steve Wozniak) brought us the Apple I and Apple II computers, early iterations of which sold in the mere hundreds and were complete failures. Not until the floppy disk was introduced and sufficient RAM added did the Apple II take off as a successful product.
Jobs was the architect of Lisa, introduced in the early 1980s. You remember Lisa, don’t you? Of course you don’t. But this computer — which cost tens of millions of dollars to develop — was another epic fail. Shortly after Lisa, Apple had a success with its Macintosh computer. But Jobs was out of a job by then, having been tossed aside thanks to the Lisa fiasco.
Jobs went on to found NeXT Computer, which was a big nothing-burger of a company. Its greatest success was that it was purchased by Apple — paving the way for the serial failure Jobs to return to his natural home. Jobs’s greatest successes were to come later — iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and more.
All those successes were made possible by failure after failure after failure and the lessons learned from those failures.
…… Steve Jobs is a reminder that failure is a good and necessary thing. And that sometimes the greatest glories are born of catastrophe.”
When we learn how to fail, move on, and climb the ladder again, we lose much of the paralyzing fear that stops so many from taking great risks.
So, today, I salute Steve Jobs, one of the greatest “fools” who ever lived.