Steve Jobs: Creativity & Innovation

Who isn’t thinking about creativity and innovation as we mourn one of the greatest innovators that ever lived, Steve Jobs? Was his greatest gift the iPhone and the iPad or watching a man not so different from you and me use his creativity to change the world right before our eyes with determination and passion? Even as one who lives life with a central theme of creativity, I am thinking in more color having heard so much about Jobs’ life these past few days since his death. It feels like a fitting tribute that thoughts of his amazing spirit inspired me to write my first blog ever.

Steve Jobs oozed creativity, a passion we share but in very different arenas. The morning after his death, as I ate my cereal, the Newspaper headlines read, Steve Jobs, The Loss of the Thomas Edison of our time. This made me so sad but I smiled at the same time. That was perfect, Steve Jobs was so much the Edison of our time! Kudos to Weston McCready for that great comparison. When I lead Creativity and Innovation seminars for corporations, schools and hospitals, I encourage people to play with similes and metaphors as warm up activities to flex their minds. How is a carrot like a phone? How is the Middle East like a rubber band? How is Steve Jobs the Thomas Edison of our time? My mind was dancing with the comparison of Jobs and Edison and of literal light, intellectual light and the metaphoric light of hope that invention provides.

Steve Wozniak attributes Steve Jobs’ uncanny success to his focused mind and his extreme action orientation. Had Steve Jobs taken lesser action, our world of technology and modern communication would be so profoundly different. The Conceptualization Theory of Creativity says that Innovation is 10% Inspiration and 90% Perspiration. What must it have taken for him to stay the course when the course was so often completely uncharted? While engaging in the creative process, our bodies and minds send competing messages about energy usage and energy conservation and it is often difficult to keep exerting ourselves when the results are slow in coming. Anyone can jot down the next big thing on a cocktail napkin. The 10% comes easily. Steve Jobs hauled stunning, never-before imagined ideas all the way to the marketplace. That’s impressive!

For the last many years, Jobs’ public spirit remained large while his body betrayed him growing smaller and smaller. I have been moved to take action and create watching Steve Jobs continue to thrill the world since his diagnosis with cancer. As a volunteer grief counselor and a university lecturer, I was inspired in 2005, when then Pixar and Apple CEO, Jobs delivered the commencement address to graduating students at Stanford University. The memorable address implores the students to look death in the eye and to live their own lives and their own dreams creatively. He says, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Make no mistake, Steve Jobs knew it and so do I, that it is challenging to hush the voices of onlookers who warn you away from the path of your desire. But it is that still small voice that is your wisest trust. It is the key to the success of that sweet watercolor you are painting, as well as your looming career path decision. You really can trust your own creative process, even when the path is not a straight one. Steve Jobs did.

We create for many reasons. One of the most personally nurturing motivators to innovate is that it makes me feel fully alive. To create takes energy but it gives it back 10-fold when our inspiration and perspiration end in a successful rewarding result. How Jobs must have known unthinkable pleasure watching the world sing, dance, fall in love and blog through his technology especially when he was living on borrowed time.

So Steve Jobs, thank you for inspiring me-
this (my first ever) blog, is for you!

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