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A Balanced Life and Steve Jobs

I just finished reading Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. Having lived in California is the 70’s and 80’s I found his covering of the events fascinating and accurate. A great read for those interesting in understanding how Apple is now the most valuable business entity in the world today. Proud for our local hero, new CEO Tim Cook.

I also read Seth Godin’s latest, We Are All Weird on the ride home from the beach and that is blog in itself. Jobs took me 8 hours to read and Godin’s took me 1.5 hours. More on the contrast later.

What stuck me the most about Jobs was found on pages 567-571, the last 5 pages. After summarizing his book, Isaacson allowed Steve Jobs to add his own perspective on his legacy. Single spaces and small type, it covered 31/2 pages. It spoke of his business philosophy and why he did things the way he did. Yet no where in there, facing death, did he spend a second reflecting on his family and relationships. The closest he came was seeing his six year-old and “imagining” what is was like for the employee he fired that day to face his six year-old. Pitiful and sad.

To my way of thinking, ignoring the family relationships you make and create is the easy way. Steve Jobs is not the first leader to put choose ambition over family and relationships.

 Keeping God first, family second, and work a distant third is a truly remarkable legacy. Think John Wooden. Yes, Steve Jobs, enriched many other families through his business success. He also wrecked quite a few along the way.Yes, he built an enduring legacy of a company. And he needlessly created enemies and hurt employees every step of the way.

His unbalanced approach to life is not surprising for a person who only after getting cancer decided to consider if God existed. Nearing death, he said, “I am about 50/50 on believing in God.” I suspect the other 50% was still betting on himself.

My faith tells me that leaving a legacy of how I treated my family and friends is more important than my net worth. Not saying net worth isn’t important. It is. It is just a reflection of my priorities and most of the successful people I admire. Many of the business practices of Steve Jobs including persistence and passion for quality are well worth duplicating and I will put them into my daily practices and memory.

Yet as Steve is quoted, “Learning what not to do is as important as what you do.” Steve’s narcissistic view of his importance relative to his behavior with others, including his family certainly provides me with a great example of his statement.

Balance is more important than speed. And it cuts down on your time chatting with St. Peter! Amen.

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