Now this was an interesting read.
I have an iPhone, which I like, but I’m very uninterested in the cult of Mac and everything Steve Jobs. It was only at the reccommendation of a friend that I had a crack at reading this mamouth biography by former CNN and Time heavyweight, Walter Isaacson. But I’m certainly glad I did.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s a roller coaster ride. I was at times both appalled and in awe of Steve Jobs, and frequently alternated between the two for the duration of the book as Isaacson appears to be incredible at capturing the real essence of Jobs, both his strengths and weaknesses.
I am in awe of Steve Jobs the genius. The man who was obsessive about quality and design. The man who worked relentless in pursuit of perfection and would not stop until he achieved it, regardless of the cost, whether that cost be personal, financial or at the expense of others.
Equally so on the other hand, I was at times appalled by his incredible harshness towards other people. His lack of compassion or consideration of others. If he had been trying to save the world then his shortcomings would have been fogiveable, but he was at heart, a materialist, intent on carving out his own legacy. And what did he create? A gadget that will be very soon surpassed. Sure, it has made an impact, but in a rapidly changing world, what sort of a lasting legacy will he really leave?
His lifelong rivalry with Bill Gates is a thread running through the book. But while he was condescending towards Bill Gates and Microsoft, look at the legacy Bill Gates is leaving. His philanthrophy is a real gift to the world. Worth far more than an operating system or app store which will inevitably fade into the history books.
Isaacson says that ‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’, by Paramahansa Yogananda, was a book that Jobs had on his iPad and read every year. Yet the truly spiritual message contained within this book failed to register with him. His actions show that he didn’t appreciated the basics of spirituality espoused by Yogananda such as spiritual energy and prayer. It is a strange contradiction.
Steve Jobs, a man who had so much potential, will go down in my history books as a man who did not live up to his potential.