Reinvention by Fire

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I’m more than halfway through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs on audio CD. My mom gave it to me for Christmas and I’m just now getting to it.

I always had a lot of respect for Steve, but I had no idea just how diverse, full, liberal, adventurous, ironic, and trial-bound his life truly was. Which makes me respect him all the more.

I’m sure many of my observations will come out here over the next few weeks, from spiritual remarks to business principles to family life. But the thing that’s struck me the most – the thing that’s actually had me saying “Wow” out loud – was the manner in which Steve Jobs embraced moments of blatant defeat, both personally and corporately, and found ways to reinvent himself unto success.

Some by choice, others through what my father called “the great sieve of life,” Steve confronted personal demons that caused him to implode as a twenty- and thirty-something, and allowed him to flourish as a forty-something and beyond.

The interesting thing is that career-wise, Jobs was a multi-millionaire by age 25. But he was far from being a successful person in life. To live life well is a very different venture than running businesses in the black (though arguably related). The embodiment of our expectations, our dreams, our perceived gifting, and the way in which we treat people can make or break us as people.

In the 80’s, Jobs was ornery, prickly, polarizing, a know-it-all, pushy, and brilliant. But through being fired from his own company, building another company that hemorrhaged cash every year (Next), love lost, love gained, marriage, children both in and out of wedlock, and the success of Pixar, he was slightly less prickly, slightly less polarizing, thinking through the need for moral high-ground, patient, and still brilliant.

The very things that tried to destroy him were refining him to tackle the issues he was born to resolve. And he couldn’t face them until he was resolved. Until he was reinvented.

We tend to look at our own lives in the scope of today, this week, and next month. It’s not often we think about who we’ll be in twenty years and the things we’ll need to walk through in order to become the person that our environments need. Most of us – myself included – tend to look back and notice change. But what incredible foresight it is to see change that needs to take place ahead of us, and then embrace it.

I believe the root of such vision is divine in origin. It comes from a connection to the Holy Spirit who sees the end from the beginning.

I’ll save my limited thoughts on Steve’s spirituality for another day. Whether he had foresight, or simply was a product of the pressures that assailed him remains to be seen. But it’s apparent that he was able to accept many of the maturing influences that life threw him and grow.

Don’t put off your future fortunes by failing to miss the point of your present pressures. ch:

  • Miriam Woodruff

    🙂

  • John brennan

    Great write up. It is amazing to confront your own issues, it seems like thats all i have been doing the last year. Super hard but it is starting to work out. Thanks for sharing his story.

  • Beth

    “Don’t put off your future fortunes by failing to miss the point of your present pressures.” Great point. Reminds me that my current circumstances are preparing me for an awesome future and I should make the best of it.

    Great post on a brilliant man. Love how you pointed out that even though he was a Multi-Millionaire he wasn’t successful in Life; that it takes more than money to be successful.

  • Gabe

    Very thought-provoking. Great post, as usual.

  • Don’t put off your future fortunes by failing to miss the point of your present pressures.
    Home-run moment for me. Great analysis of his life, what he went through, and how we can learn from his success.