Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Why you need the vision of Steve Jobs

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photo by Bryan Tsai (Creative Commons)

One of the best books I read last year was Steve Jobs  by Walter Isaacson.

Jobs was without a doubt the greatest CEO of our time. He led two different companies, one on the verge of bankruptcy, to become two of the most valuable and most creative organizations that we have seen.

I picked up the book, curious about who this man really was, wondering how he was able to accomplish so much in such a seemingly short period of time.

The book quickly answers the question.

Steve Jobs had vision.

When the Mac was first produced in 1984, it changed the world. Literally.

The Mac was the first computer to utilize a graphical interface. Up to this point you could only type in commands. The Mac set the stage for how we use computers today.

The idea did not originate with Jobs and Apple. He stole it.

Jobs bartered a deal that allowed him to visit the research labs of Xerox. They created the idea first, but their company lacked the vision of what to do with it.

Jobs was blown away by the possibility. He went back to Apple and immediately put his engineers to work to discover how to make it happen. Armed only with a vision, they were able to reproduce the same discoveries on their own.

Jobs himself lacked the knowledge and skill to engineer such a feat. But he had something better, a clear vision of what the computer could be.

The vision of what it is today.

Here are 7 ways that having vision like Steve Jobs can help us lead our teams and ourselves.

1. Leadership. When Jobs set out to make the products he would eventually create, he could not do it on is own. He needed his team. Jobs’ vision for the these products was inspiring. His team made sacrifices to create that vision. If your team doesn’t follow you, maybe it’s because you haven’t given them a clear vision of where you are headed.

2. Craziness. Too often we settle for a dream or a vision that is acceptable. We may not admit it, but we limit ourselves because of fear. Vision helps us to do something crazy. To imagine and then desire something so great that we can’t help but strive towards it. At some point, every remarkable idea is crazy. Want to be remarkable? Be more irrational.

3. Clarity. A clear vision helps you make good decisions. We are constantly being distracted by decisions that would have us focus on anything but our work. If the vision is clear, the decisions to make become clearer. Every step taken will be filled with purpose.

4. Motivation. The dream of creating the Mac wasn’t just clear, it was incredible. Everyone on the team knew it was worth pursuing. That kind of vision keeps us motivated. Engineers were motivated to work long hours and designers to stretch their own limits, all because of the enormity of the vision.

5. Culture. Everyone at Apple knew they were there to change the world. The vision was revolutionary and so everyone who worked on the project viewed themselves as revolutionaries. They made sacrifices that only a revolutionary would make. Is your team seem committed to your cause? If not, maybe you lack a clear, revolutionary vision.

6. Creativity. The vision demanded creativity. It was a new technology. It seemed impossible, but Jobs believed, and so did his team. Their belief in the seemingly impossible lead to the creation of the technology. Hope to do something just as impossible? A clear vision can help stimulate your creativity.

7. Excellence. His vision was so specific that it led to products that were as close to perfect as any product could be. He started with a vision of excellence, not just a vision of good enough. Excellence starts on day one, it is not something we can just add in later. If you lack excellence in your organization, it could be because you lack an excellent vision.

Most of us love strategy. We want to know the next step because it gives us confidence. It makes us feel good about what we are doing.

Strategy without vision is worthless.

We need to know what we want. We need to know where we are headed.

We need to dream a vision that is impossibly large, but will change the world.

Is your vision clear?

How does having a incredible vision help you on a daily basis? Share in the comments.



About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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11 Replies

  1. Wonderful thoughts here, Jeremy. Thanks for sharing.

    I’ve adopted the quarterly review & preview that Michael Hyatt describes in “Creating Your Life Plan.” It’s beginning to work wonders for me if for no other reason than giving me the opportunity to review my vision, values and goals, aside from the abundancy mindset I now have regarding my time and how I use it. I highly recommend Michael’s insights.

  2. I agree with you about Hyatt’s book. it’s a great resource that helps build vision for your life. it can be downloaded here.

  3. Jeremy, it’s been just about a full year since I was first introduced to Michael’s blog and materials. I am thankful that happened and glad to see you’re plugged in to his blog as a Community Leader. Blessings, man, as that scenario unfolds for you and allows you greater exposure in blogging and beyond. Blessings!

  4. Thanks. Blessings are awesome. I hope the same for you.

  5. In a lot of ways I admire Jobs for his vision and pursuit of excellence. But he also treated people terribly and was extremely unethical in his approach, especially in regards to overseas labor. Do the ends justify the means? 

  6. There were certainly things about Jobs that I would not encourage anyone to emulate. Despite being brilliant, he poorly handled his cancer diagnosis, essentially living in denial for months. I was pointing out a specific circumstance of a company sitting on an incredible technology but not having the vision to see it. It makes me wonder what I am missing out on due to a lack of vision myself.

  7. Gotcha. Sorry if I came off as rude; I sincerely did not mean to be. I agree that vision is very, very important. What I meant to say (and did not express clearly)is that it is important (to me) that you pursue the vision in an honorable way.

  8. No rudeness was felt. I certainly agree with you and thanks for clarifying.

  9. I am really looking forward to reading Issacson’s book.  I enjoyed your write up on it.  Vision is something that I have been considering recently.  How I see, what I want to do with that sight, where I want my vision to take me, what legacy I want my vision to leave.  There is a lot of think about, but I am excited about it, as I hone down to the core elements my own life vision.

    One of my favourite hymns / worship songs is the Irish traditional piece
    Be thou my vision
    Oh Lord of my heart
    Not be all else to me
    Save what thou art

    Thou my souls waking
    By day or by night

  10. Jam Ja'el

    I have been seeing a rash of very ethical and especially religious speakers jumping on the Steve Jobs is great band wagon. Yes he made money, a lot of money. Most if not all of it by stealing technologies. And as if stealing something and suing the person you stole it from wasn’t bad enough, he was an overall horrible human being.
    I understand you are just referring to his “Vision” ie. 1: Steal an idea. 2: make billions exploiting your engineers. 3: Exploit slave labor. 4: Overcharge for LESS than Perfect technology you intend to replace with a Slightly closer to Perfect upgrade in 6months.

    Yes being unethical and a horrible human being is certainly a way to make a lot of money. But not something I am willing to emulate.
    Vision and passion= yes. Steve Jobs=no.

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