Could You Be Steve Jobs?

English: Steve Jobs while presenting the iPad ...

English: Steve Jobs while presenting the iPad in San Francisco on 27th January 2010 Deutsch: Steve Jobs während der iPad Präsentation in San Francisco am 27. Januar 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The boys and I try to make a point to find time to gather together so that we can be “the boys” and nothing more. It is our chance to set aside the other titles we wear (father, husband, son, brother etc) and just be us.

Sometimes the conversations are serious and sometimes they move into areas that are..silly. Other times they wander into areas that you can deem as “what if” or “what would it take?”

For example we have a bet about whether I could tackle Pittsburgh Steeler Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He is 13 years younger than myself and only about six inches taller.

The guys think I am nuts to believe that I can take down a pro quarterback who is big, physical, tough and I say, why not. Why can’t I. What is stopping me other than I don’t play pro ball and am unlikely to ever have the opportunity to do so on the playing field.

Opportunity and Resources

Flip through the pages here and you’ll see a post where I wrote that it was unfair for Thomas Edison to get the credit for inventing the light bulb because I could have done it. It is not my fault he is a 100 years older than I am.

And that my friends brings us to another question the boys and I talked about, Could We Be Steve Jobs?

Was he really that different from the rest of us? Was he that much smarter and or creative or did he have greater access to resources and the opportunity to make something from them?

It is the sort of question that intrigues me as a person and as a father. How much of what we do is tied into our beliefs about our capabilities and access to the tools that help to develop them?

How much of our creativity is stifled because we listen to what others say or question ourselves?

Illusions of Grandeur

I had a teacher in high school who used to lecture us about how his job was to crush our illusions of grandeur and make us into people who assumed realistic expectations.

I didn’t like it then and now I want to plant my size 12 boot in his ass and ask him what made him think his job was to repeatedly dump cold water upon our dreams. What made him the arbiter of what we could or could not do.

Yet I concede that there is a need to pay attention to those dreams and figure out what is possible and what is not. Sometimes resources aren’t enough.

The greatest basketball coaches can’t teach height. They couldn’t have made me into another Shaq or Kareem. Go down the list of sports and there will be more than a few that require certain physical skills/characteristics that I lack, but brainpower is a different deal.

Remove The Physical

That last line isn’t supposed to sound as arrogant as it does. It is not supposed to sound as if I am suggesting I am the smartest man ever. Rather it is a question of what happens when we pull out the physical and focus on the mental side, not just for me, but for all of us.

Does that begin to level the playing field and make it more likely to find common ground between the “great thinkers” and us.

This isn’t supposed to be a post in which I share research or links to some scholarly works on the topic. You won’t find any sort of scientific support here for for either side, primarily because I am sharing thoughts and not trying to sway your opinion.

I am comfortable saying that I think resources have a real influence on what we do. If I didn’t have some of my existing financial concerns there is a lot more that I could do.

But I am also comfortable saying that is not an excuse not to try to do some of these things or find ways to adapt and overcome any shortcomings.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that we can’t do anything unless we choose to make the effort. We aren’t all going to be Steve Jobs for lack of effort as much as lack of resources or vision.

So the question I ask myself is what sort of vision do I have for my future and what do I need to do to make those things happen. And more importantly, what can I do to help my children overcome or avoid some of the hurdles we have talked about.

My takeaway here is simple, I still believe that I can do most of the things I dream about. All I need to do is figure it out and there is a world of difference between knowing you can and feeling like you can’t.

What do you think?

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  1. Gini Dietrich December 4, 2012 at 5:09 am

    I think you can totally tackle Big Ben! I want to be there when you do it. In fact, he’s injured. Right now might be a good time to try!

    • Jack December 5, 2012 at 12:25 am

      Now would be the perfect time to try. We got really silly with this and tried to figure out whether it would be “fair” to start from the line of scrimmage or a couple of feet away.

      I said scrimmage because I don’t want any excuses, but he is pretty tough. I figure I might need a few days to recover afterwards, would be fun to find out.

  2. Christie tate December 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I couldn’t be Steve Jobs because I wouldn’t be willing to ignore/hate/abandon my daughters. Is that harsh? Sorry. I just can’t get over that part.

  3. December 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I think that was a horrible teacher and maintain that there are a few (granted very few) small NBA players and no one knows the full potential of another person.

    • Jack December 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      I really have no clue if he is dead or alive, but I would be shocked to find out that he was still teaching which is probably a good thing.

      Potential is a funny thing to measure, very few people are good at doing it.

  4. Stan Faryna December 3, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I would not have made all of the same decisions that Steve Jobs made. Some of those decisions would have made all the difference.

    For example, I would not have shut down the deal with Foxconn, the Chinese slavers that manufacture several of Apple products. And that would have meant Apple products cost a little more and Apple’s volume of sales and market share would be slightly lower. But the greater cause of human dignity would have been served.

    Ironically, I write this on a MacBookPro but I assure you I bought it years before I knew about Foxconn. And I have to say that my iPhones were all received as gifts. [grin]

    Can I stand on the board room table and yell expletives at incompetence?

    I have done better (or worse). I have thrown a chair through a plate glass door (into the room of slacking programmers) before we were not focused on solving a customer’s problem. Before the chair flew, I could see Counterstrike (a game) on several monitors. I saw this from outside the room.

    Do I have a more powerful design vision than Jobs? Yup.

    Do I have a more interesting concept for tomorrow’s computer? I think so.

    BUT history has spoken and there are reasons, mysteries, and a peculiar mathematics which we are unlikely to apprehend. Put another way, neither you nor I were made for the purpose that Job served. But that does not mean to say that our purpose (yours or mine) is any less important, cursed, and/or wonderful.

  5. Kaarina Dillabough December 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

    “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right”. To quote our good friend, invisible Bill… Cheers! Kaarina

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