I just finished reading the new Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs. It is a good read, especially if you have an interest in Apple, Jobs, or computers in general.
This is a story of two Jobs. One is a self-centered jerk of near mythical proportion; the likes of which I’m certain I’ve never known personally. The other is a goal-driven perfectionist obsessed with design and simplicity, … and perfection. The story of this second Jobs is truly inspiring and it is this Jobs that I will choose to commit to memory.
Jobs had a keen eye for design and he would not allow anything less than the best to earn his stamp of approval. He oversaw all aspects of product development, from the design/development of the raw materials (such as the metal used in the Powerbooks or the glass used in the walls of the Apple Store), to the packaging that the finished product was delivered in. If something wasn’t perfect it was “shit” to him – and he certainly wasn’t polite with his criticisms of imperfections. However when a product did become “perfect” he also wasn’t shy about declaring that it was the “greatest thing ever” to the world.
In my own personal work I have been inspired by the story of Steve Jobs to push myself further towards perfection. I am prone to pragmatism or the “that’s good enough” bug that aids my productivity but sacrifices perfection. I doubt I’ve ever produced anything in my life that would stand the test of Steve Jobs’ criticism – and I suspect that most things would have received the prestigious Steve Jobs certification as “shit”. In the past few days I have found myself asking the question “what would Steve say?” when working on different features and designs for my products. Is there any way that this could be simplified? And I have surprised myself by continually making things better; Probably still “shitty” by Jobs standard, but still getting better.
I really think the world would be a better place if we all had some “ass hole” like Steve Jobs looking over our shoulder declaring “it’s shit, get rid of it!” whenever we were about to turn in a sub-standard piece of work. I think the world is better for Steve and his intense passion for perfection. I think the world is worse for his departure.
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.