From a Visionary…
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford commencement address.
Straight-forward communication and development of, equally, accessible innovations helped define a legacy. It has been a week since the passing of one of the greatest visionaries in American history. Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, died at the age of 56, on Wednesday, October 5th. His body was laid to rest this past Friday at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, CA. Upon hearing the news of his death, countless individuals rapidly responded, sharing their condolences in quickly crafted 140-character epitaphs and memorial postings plastered on personal blogs. At the time of Jobs’ passing, I contributed my own thoughts, but felt almost shamed by the brevity of my words. Attempting to adequately convey the weight of even a sliver of Jobs’ life brought forth an assumption in my mind that, perhaps, I lacked the proper words because I never knew the man. And who did? Who was Steve Jobs?
While his occupation may have been listed as “entrepreneur,” he was more than a title; he was more than his inventions. Moments spent combing through his works brought me to key realizations. The thoughtful reflections produced, as I paused upon certain passages, provided a perfect example of Jobs’ gift: his ability to inspire others. Equally important, the immense passion Jobs had, for his products, was always driven by a need to consistently improve the user-experience.
Steve Jobs was not only a great thinker and a great doer, but his actions and his words shaped great thought and great vision in others, challenging professionals to drive change within their own work. I have read through many articles in the past week. Some have pushed me into deep deliberation. Others have stirred solace through a simple smile. One particular article I came upon titled, “How Steve Jobs mentored a physician and changed health care,” really grabbed my attention as it drew a connection between a revered trendsetter and an industry sufficiently cited, by myself and others, for its lack of modernization.
In the piece, Dr. Davis Liu expresses how he found inspiration in Jobs’ vision and guiding words, adapting them to define his own role as a medical professional. The most thought-provoking aspect of the article was the manner in which Dr. Liu’s conclusions about the modern healthcare system’s need to produce effective change parallel Jobs’ own take on product development, recognizing that success is dependant upon producing technology with a heart. As I read, I began to understand the true value of the culture Jobs helped create and how many of the principles outlining his success as an entrepreneur remain universally applicable to an array of industries – yes, even healthcare.
Reading Liu’s insights helped me appreciate the impact of Steve Jobs’ philosophy as applied to an industry I personally feel is long overdue for hi-tech reform. Liu explains, “Patients want doctors who know them as individuals, use medical technology thoughtfully, and a system that is highly reliable, safe, and focused on them to stay well or get them better. Doctors want patients who are partners in their care, technology that enables them to get the accurate information they need real-time, and a system that is streamlined to allow doctors to be healers.” What is important to note about Liu’s evaluation is how it seems to mirror Apple’s own pledge, a page on their corporate website explaining their commitment to accessibility: “By listening to our customers and applying thoughtful solutions to previously unsolvable problems, Apple continues to set a high standard for accessibility.” While Liu sees technology as being greatly under-utilized in modern healthcare, he also sees the challenge as Jobs would: expressed in the form of an opportunity; an opportunity to revolutionize an industry by understanding consumer needs and developing intuitive solutions that bridge the gap between technology and humanity.
A blog post I recently came upon explained, “Steve Jobs didn’t invent the technologies we use every day, but he humanized them and made them accessible for millions of people.” (Conlan) As I read this, I couldn’t help but be filled with the kind of hope and inspiration Dr. Liu touched upon as he described the influence of a man, he had never met, upon his own life. Liu called him a mentor and I suppose he has been a mentor to me, too. Jobs’ life touched so many and his passing has left a void in the world that, some might argue, can never be filled. I would have to disagree with those skeptics. I’d like to think that the hole left might someday be filled by the musings of people Jobs’ inspired throughout his life, with a hope that those thoughts give way to action; to innovation; to design. So, while I still feel a sense of inadequacy in attempting to summarize how Steve Jobs has impacted me personally, I find assurance in knowing that he will continue to do so long after all the articles have been written and long after all the biographical news stories have aired.
The world needs new dreamers to shape the world. I think it’s our turn to see opportunity where others see problems. Dr. Liu presented a laundry list of problems within his own profession; an industry begging for deliverance from out-dated communication practices and unreliable filing systems. I have to thank you, Mr. Steve Jobs, for giving me the courage to ask: Why not start there?
Read Dr. Liu’s article here: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/10/steve-jobs-mentored-physician-changed-health-care.html
“Accessibility.” Apple. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.apple.com/accessibility/>.
Jobs, Steve. “DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO and MAKE A DIFFERENCE (speech and Video)- Steve Jobs’ Advice to Entrepreneurs.” 1000 ADVICES – Free Smart Advices and Inspirational Tips from Great Achievers and Business Champions! – YOUR INSPIRATIONAL LIFE-BUSINESS SYNERGY E-COACH! Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.1000advices.com/guru/entrepreneur_do- what-you-love_sj.html>.
Liu, Davis. “How Steve Jobs Mentored a Physician and Changed Health Care.” KevinMD.com | Social Media’s Leading Physician Voice. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/10/steve-jobs-mentored-physician-changed-health- care.html>.
Spangler, Conlan. “Steve Jobs.” This Is Conlan. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://thisisconlan.com/2011/10/05/steve-jobs/>.