Inspiring Examples of Resistance: Steve Jobs

Dan Bolton

“It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.”

You're probably all somewhat familiar with the story of the man who founded the most powerful company in the world right now from his garage with a friend in 1976. Steve Jobs, at the time only 21 years old, founded Apple Inc.  

Steve never finished college--not even his first year. But he was able to synthesize his own interests and experiences, from electronics hacking to Zen Buddhism to calligraphy, add three heaping scoops of passion, and become what he became. He felt that others should do the same.

Steve Jobs was a man who always had a clear vision of what he wanted, and was intensely driven in making his vision come to light. Steve Jobs resisted social pressure to compromise or give up this vision. At one point his uncompromising ways got him fired from his own company. Steve Jobs turned what would seem to be a devastating blow into an opportunity to grow. 

"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."

Not only did he enter one of the most creative periods of his life, but he created two new companies (one becoming wildly successful) and met the love of his life: "During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife."  

So many men I meet with have this fear of being rejected and imagine a variety of scenarios of what would happen if they are rejected. And to be clear, as it goes with anxiety, these fears are imagined and generally never go as badly as they are imagined to. Well, here is an example of an ultimate form of rejection; getting fired from the billion dollar company you started in his parents garage, feeling immense shame under the scrutiny around this failure, wanting desperately to run away and escape the scrutiny, but sticking it out despite immense embarrassment, and coming out the other side stronger and more successful than before (and, let's not forget, getting the girl in the end as well). Aptly, Jobs said "Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers."

The lesson here is this. Steve Jobs was was in love with his vision. He fully embraced what he wanted to do, and the way he wanted it to be done. He was not in love with being liked or accepted by other people. He had a vision and remained true to it. He knew himself, what he wanted to do, and how he wanted it to be carried forth and would not compromise. 

To some, Jobs’ life has revealed the importance of sticking firmly to one’s vision and goals, no matter the psychic toll on employees or business associates. To others, Jobs serves as a cautionary tale, a man who changed the world but at the price of alienating almost everyone around him.

I am not recommending people to go and be as intransigent as Steve Jobs, because surely there are definite drawbacks to this. The concept here that can be applied to your life is this: You don't have to get caught up in doing things the way they are 'supposed to be' done, live your life the way it is 'supposed to be' lived. Don't get stuck in conventions. Don't let the admonitions of the naysayers and doubters and anxious skeptics of anything new or different detour you from blazing your own trails.