After being reinstated as Apple’s CEO in 1997, Steve Jobs made one thing clear: If something or someone stood in the way of what he wanted, he wouldn’t hesitate to violate the rules of social or business interaction in order to get his result. Often berating and firing employees on the spot, verbally abusing strangers who got in his way, and parking in handicapped parking spots whenever he felt like it – Steve Jobs reminds us of the scripture from Matthew 16:26, “ What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
Although having departed our world over a year ago, according to the August 2012 Wired article “Am I Steve Jobs” (written by Ben Austen), the Jobs biography continues to be a best seller. And for some, his life story has “emerged as an odd sort of holy scripture for entrepreneurs – a gospel and an antigospel at the same time”. This from the life of a man that succeeded in developing great products that might be remembered for 50 years down the road, but may have failed his friends, family, and encouraged others to do the same. Yeah, real inspiring.
For instance, Steve Davis, a CEO of a software company, admires the Jobs drive to succeed – even if it’s at the expense of those he shares his community with. Davis states that he too has to set aside certain aspects of family life, and believes that company’s fail when employees aren’t committed to being available 24 hours a day. And while that might create problems in his personal life – he noted that he was blessed with a wife who could pick up the slack.
And there’s others too, who seem like they’d fit in better with the National Socialist party of Germany in the 1930’s, than with the Christian virtues that much of Western civilized society was built upon. Guys like Tristan O’Tierney, a Mac and iPhone Software Developer says, “he now sees the value in bluntly telling people their work is crap.” And Ray Dalio, the so-called “Steve Jobs of investing”, believes that employees should clash with one another, and speak without filters or be concerned about sensitivity. And there’s Neal Sales-Griffen, a 25 year old cofounder and CEO of a programming school in Chicago, says that he “doesn’t waste time anymore with intricacies of etiquette” – this after recalling Jobs berating a team of employees in an auditorium, telling them they should “hate each other for letting each other down”, and firing the team leader on the spot.
However, Walter Isaacson, the author of the Steve Jobs Biography says that he “sees Jobs as being hardly more blameworthy, even in his worst moments, than other powerful people”. You know the types. People who may be surprised at Jobs carnivorous manner, but then go on to “screw clients out of their life savings”. Or those who point fingers at Jobs failings with his family, but then end up having been married three times themselves, with kids that don’t ever speak to them.
Robert Sutton, a professor of management and engineering at Stanford, is quick to point out in his 2007 book, “The No @$$hole Rule”, that “intimidation can be used strategically to gain power. But in most situations, the @$$hole simply does not get the best results. Psychological studies show that abusive bosses reduce productivity, stifle creativity, cause high rates of absenteeism, company theft, and turnover. 25 percent of bullied employees and 20 percent of those who witness the bullying will eventually quit because of it.”
Sure, Jobs developed some amazing products in his time, and undoubtedly achieved great power, fame and financial success. But in the end, what’s the point of achieving only fleeting accomplishments, when we have the legacy of children, friends, and our own eternity ahead of us? Sure, work hard. But do it with the creativity, grace, humility, and inspiration that isn’t found in our own narcissistic desires – but from our Creator, and the Bible He’s given us.
To read more of about Steve Jobs, please see Ben Austen’s The Story of Steve Jobs.
And if you’d like to read a truly inspiring individual who not only got results, but lived a life that encouraged others instead of cutting them down, please see Eric Metaxas’s: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy