What Steve Jobs means to me

Portrait of a young Steve Jobs, wearing a suit and tie, and holding a red apple in one hand.

This isn't the Steve Jobs that I'm familiar, but he's definitely closer to me in age and hair length than 2011 Jobs.

I’m sure you’ve heard the news: Steve Jobs is dead. I found out while at work. I work at Kik, on the cross-platform messaging app that is Kik Messenger. The entire company would be wholly impossible without Jobs and the iPhone. This, however, is an understatement. Computers themselves, and thus the internet, and thus much of today’s culture, have all been massively influenced by this man.

If the me that I was a few years ago could see me blogging about how Steve Jobs is an inspiration, he’d be very confused. For years, I’ve been a Windows/Linux guy, and ragged on Apple as much as I possibly can. I just bought a smartphone this summer; it’s an Android. The only piece of Apple I own is a 2gen iPod Shuffle, which I proudly sync using Windows Explorer and python script. I don’t have iTunes installed. While my personal preference for computing has not changed over the past few years, I have grown an appreciation and respect for Apple and Steve Jobs.

I still like having two+ mouse buttons, and I still like having both a Backspace and a Delete key, and I really don’t know how well I’d be able to handle having my main modifier key (Ctrl/Apple) not in the corner of the keyboard. I also can’t stand the colourlessness that pervades the typical Apple interface. Yet, I can’t deny the vast influence that the mouse as introduced by Apple and the window manager have improved my life. I am not an ungrateful person.

I’d rather focus on Jobs though. Tonight, I read his speech at Stanford and then later watched/listened to it. This speech is 6 years old, and yet fits the occasion of his death very well, as his final point is about death. While Steve Jobs may only have had 56 years, most would agree that he made more of them than most people make of their 80. This was not an accident.

In his speech, Jobs describes how for all of his adult life, he has looked in the mirror every morning and asked himself:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

I’ve recently been developing several new daily habits. I’ve been meaning to blog about them for awhile, and tonight seem like as good of an occasion as any. I recently listened to Jim Rohn’s The Art of Exceptional Living Audiobook, and it inspired me to make a number of changes in my life. So far I’ve integrated three daily habits:

  • I go for a walk.
  • I read for at least half an hour.
  • I journal.

Most books on the subject advise against making significant changes all at once, as they can be harder to keep. I wanted to dive right in. Besides, I think these habits are consistent and mutually reinforcing. The walking makes the other two easier, because by the time I get to the end of the day, I’ve already done one of my three new habits, so I’m already part-way toward my goal. Also, since my journalling is about personal development, it makes sense to read something inspiring first. I like reading anyway. I also like walking. I’ve been enjoying journalling as well. I’ve logged nearly 20000 words in 22 days.

Where does Steve Jobs fit into this? Well, I’m nailing my nights, but my mornings have been less than fantastic. My main excuse for this is that it’s really cold in my apartment (my room anyway) and so I’ve been lazing in bed because my newly-awoken-brain thinks that that will keep my feet warmest. Come on Malcolm: you can do better than that. Steve Jobs describes how he makes each day meaningful from the beginning, and I’m going to find ways to do the same.

I haven’t decided yet what this is going to consist of, but I now have a clear vision that my mornings need much more clarity and purpose than they have at present. Will I ask myself a question? Several? Recite a mission statement? Chant a mantra? Plan my day in my head? Do something specific?

…I don’t know yet. But I’m excited to find out.

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