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Every day this week our local newspaper has devoted a headline to Apple, Steve Jobs, his successor, or as today’s headline screamed, “Defining a Visionary”- a story that listed the next five “candidates” for the position of world tech visionary leader. The paper devoted less coverage to the national debt crisis.
The resignation of Steve Jobs as Apple CEO has sent the media into a tailspin wondering who will replace the tech giant, will Apple continue to thrive in his absence (God forbid the stock prices should falter) and will the tech world continue to crank out more toys (that will no doubt need upgrading every six months). “Who will be the next Steve Jobs?” The article asked. “He has become almost mythical…It’s going to be tough for anyone to live up to that standard.” Including Steve Jobs himself, which is why he stepped down from his position at Apple.
Jobs is many things – innovator, creator, businessman, but above all a perfectionist. Someone whose standards are so high that he can no longer fulfill his own job obligations to his company. His adversary is his own ill health which despite his best efforts has forced him to leave the company he is so dearly devoted to. His laser focus on detail and product has made Apple one of the most successful businesses in the world. In his speech to Stanford graduates in 2005, Jobs illustrated how something as minor as a calligraphy class that he took in college (which he dropped out of, by the way) allowed him to incorporate what he learned there into his design for the Mac. “It all came back to me.” he said. He then advised the graduates to be aware of all that they encounter and that someday they would be able, like he did, to “connect the dots” regarding their education, their life experiences and who they meet and where they go. It all makes a difference and it all leads to a final destination. Nothing is without value.
Despite all the technology that has found its way into American classrooms, it is this piece of Jobs’ legacy that I would most like my students to utilize. Too often they sit in class lamenting about why they have to take my class or history or algebra or PE. “We’re never gonna use it.” they whine. And they might not. But then again, like Steve Jobs, life may take them on some very interesting journeys. We don’t know who the next visionaries will be. They may be in my first period class or your AP drama class. The more experiences that they have, the richer their toobox and the better their chances of creating a remarkable life for themselves and extraordinary success in the world.