Inspiring tale of failure, illness helped Jobs’ success

Steve Jobs was a man everyone loved or hated.

Apple fanboys worshipped at the altar of Jobs, while others dismissed him as an arrogant control freak. But he was, without a doubt, one of the greatest corporate executives of our time.

Jobs’ life wasn’t always filled with one innovative idea after another. He had some failures, some of them epic even, but it’s what he did after them that makes him stand out. Steve Jobs’ life had its ups and downs that all of us can learn a few things from.

He was persistent, passionate and gutsy.

In 1985, he was kicked out of his own company. He brought on John Sculley to help him run Apple into the future. But their visions for the company later diverged and they had a falling-out. The board of directors sided with Sculley and kicked Jobs out — a very public failure on Jobs’ part.

“What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating,” Jobs would recall in his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford University graduates.

After getting kicked out of your own company, you would think: ‘Okay, this is it. I’ve failed.’ But not Jobs. He felt lost for a few months, but eventually came to a realization.

“I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the Valley,” he said. “But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did … and so I decided to start over.”

And start over he did. Driven by failure, he started a new computer company, NeXT, and bought the graphics division of Lucasfilm, a company known today as Pixar. Jobs’ foray into the animation world would go on to create some of the best animated films of our time, such as “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Cars.” Their success rate caught the eye of Disney, and in 2006, Disney acquired Pixar.

NeXT computers, however, didn’t enjoy the same success. The NeXT computer was a highly-advanced but very expensive computer that saw poor sales. Sales were bad enough that NeXT gave up on creating hardware and focused on selling software.

In 1996, Apple bought out NeXT computer, and began one of the greatest comeback stories in business. The software Jobs developed at NeXT serves as the foundation of Mac OS X. But it wasn’t only software Apple acquired in the purchase of NeXT, it was also Steve Jobs. Further proof that the universe will always find a way of correcting its mistakes.

When Jobs began his second run with Apple in 1997, the company was on the verge of collapse. Jobs spent the next 14 years rebuilding Apple to the iconic company it is today with the release of the iMac in 1998, the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and then the iPad in 2010.

Reflecting on his life, Jobs said, “I didn’t see it then, but getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me … It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”

Getting fired served as an ego check for Jobs but it also allowed him to enter the most creative period of his life. Jobs could have given up after getting ousted from Apple, but he continued to do what he loved.

“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love,” he said. “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

His comeback at Apple was a giant middle finger to his haters earlier in life. It is his passion and drive that led to this comeback and makes him such an admirable person.

In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is usually a highly-fatal disease. Most patients have a few months to live after being diagnosed, but Jobs had a rare form of it — one that was initially thought to be curable. The disease shaped Jobs’ outlook in the later portion of his life.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life,” he said. “Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Jobs’ fight with pancreatic cancer spurred him to lead Apple to constant innovation after innovation in the past few years. Realizing that his time on Earth was short pushed him to get his affairs in order. He needed to leave Apple at a good enough place to continue without him, and it certainly will. His vision, his personality and his gusto will continue to live on for many years in Cupertino and beyond.

Jobs’ attitude can be summed up with one of his quotes: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”

He wanted to change the world. He wanted to leave a lasting legacy and he did that.

All of us should strive to be like Steve Jobs in that we should all be passionate about something in life, be persistent and live life by our own rules. But most importantly, make something of your time here on Earth.

So here’s to you Steve Jobs. I hope you’re looking down at us from your iCloud.

_Charlie is a senior in media._