Steve Jobs: seven ways he taught us to 'think different'

'The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

- From a 2007 Apple commercial

Apple founder and chairman Steve Jobs taught us all a thing or two about innovation. When he launched Apple in the mid-1970s, it was at a time of great disillusionment and distrust with "Big Science" and the market system in general. The future seemed to belong to faceless technocrats -- and the large, bureaucratic corporations that employed them, systematically stamping out new products to cater to every scientifically studied need.

Steve Jobs proved them all wrong. He was the anti-technocrat -- an artist, entrepreneur, dreamer, revolutionary. He shook the business world out of its coma and made business fun. And made technology fun.

Here are seven ways Jobs taught us to "think different:"

Think big: The world needs visionaries who want to make it a better place. Steve Jobs didn't set out to build a better word processor or a more feature-rich cell phone. He wanted nothing less than to bring the power of computing to improve the lives of every human being on earth. He succeeded.

Follow your instincts: Be that unconventional, against-the-grain thinker who refuses to listen to the naysayers and follow their own instincts. For years, any self-respecting computer industry leader ran away from hardware as fast as he or she could in the belief that software should run on any kind of commodity hardware. Steve Jobs rejected this conventional wisdom, strongly believing that elegant software needs to go hand in hand with elegant hardware to deliver the most profound user experience. Rightly or wrongly, few in the industry, to this day, think like that.

Adopt unconventional, or even "impractical," perspectives to problems: Jobs said the calligraphy courses he took during his shaky tenure at Reed College gave him the inspiration years later to design the typography into the Mac computer -- at a time when all computers were DOS or green-screen command-line interfaces.

Don't be afraid of failure: Often, they fail, but some break through, and when they do, it results in smarter solutions for all. Jobs was actually fired from Apple back in the 1980s, which created new opportunities for growth and discovery for Jobs -- and enriched his creativity and design sense when he returned and revived the company in the late 1990s.

Upset the status quo: The world needs visionaries not afraid to stand up against vested interests and tired old ways of doing things. The greatest innovations are those that changed the way we looked at problems, and disrupted the old models.

Be optimistic about the future: Jobs was not one to run and hide in a bunker when times got rough. He did not look at the world as a deteriorating, hopeless place. He believed in the resiliency of people to persevere and do the right things.

Keep it personal: Passion drove Jobs' success. He expressed this passion in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech:

"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. 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. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

The Apple commercial script referenced above is the perfect description for Steve Jobs himself. He pushed the human race forward. Some may have seen him as crazy, but ultimately it was genius. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. And he did.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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