I am writing this on a MacBook Pro, listening to music on my iPod, which seems fitting, given that I am posting about Mona Simpson's eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs.
Certainly in the days following his death, there was much attention paid to Jobs' business acumen and success. But I'm far more moved and inspired by what Mona had to say about who he was as a man, as a person, trying to live his life as we all do. One aspect, in particular, stands out:
Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him. . .
His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still. . . .
He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.
What strikes me about Steve Jobs is that he achieved success not in spite of this intensely emotional core, but because of it. Passion seems to have fueled him in all aspects of his life, both at home and in his work.
For many of us, "success" seems to come at a very high cost. We are asked to give up this intensely emotional and passionate side of ourselves in service to "corporate culture."
Passion is sucked from us, I know. But if we are honest, we also know that we surrender our passion at the door. To be emotional at work is to be "unprofessional" in most workplaces. We give it up willingly in order to have what we believe is the safety and security of employment.
Yet it is this very emotional core that feeds our creativity and our ability to do great things. Without it, we are dried, dessicated husks, going through the motions of working and living. And, ironically, it is this lack of emotion that can make us less effective at what we do, bringing down upon us the very thing we fear.
There are many ways we could emulate Steve Jobs at work. The most valuable, it seems to me, is to cultivate our passion and emotional core. With it, we can achieve greatness. Without it, we go nowhere.