There's been a lot of really amazing tributes to Steve Jobs the past few days. This one by Eric Schmidt had a nice point -
What I remember thinking at the time is that you shouldn’t take a job unless you know how to win. I had no clue how to do what he did. When somebody tells you they’re going to do something and you say, “I don’t understand how you’re going to do that,” and they succeed? That is the ultimate humbling experience. My interactions with Steve were always like that. He was always ahead of me. When he started working on tablets, I said nobody really likes tablets. The tablets that existed were just not very good. Steve said: “No, we can build one.” One of the things about Steve is, he was always in the realm of possibility. There was a set of assumptions that Steve would make that were never crazy. They were just ahead of me.
We think of Steve Jobs now as the visionary he was. In 300 years, when people study this era, they'll all recognize his genius right away.
Most of them - our great-great-grandchilden, they won't realize how Jobs's vision was misunderstood, questions, derided, mocked for so long before he broke through. They'll remember the genius, they won't remember the struggle.
It's amazing how death transforms a man into a legend.
Happened viscerally with me with Steve's death. Reflecting on him, as a historical figure instead of a real thing I was interacting with on a daily basis, the magnificence of this human life really struck me. Whereas before, he had just always been Steve Jobs, no more remarkable than a hurricane that comes around once a year to fuck up your life.
Act I: The Discovery of Conflict Invigoration
I recently discovered a phenomenon common among many highly successful people. I'm calling it "conflict invigoration" - this is a personality trait, a mixed blessing and curse. It's the kind of person who can move heaven and earth when inspired, but doesn't do as well when they aren't... and who is always invigorated by a fight.
I first noticed conflict invigoration among a number of the most successful people I knew personally. See, I don't think this is an entirely new observation, but a lot of the people that reach stratospheric levels of success are kind of deranged. You almost have to be, to keep going after you've "won" by every conceivable measure, to work yourself to the bone at the expense of your sanity and longevity and vitality, to neglect so many of the basic human needs and pleasures and comforts.
I saw this trait in lots of successful people, and then I started paying attention to biographies and histories. Indeed, many of the most expansive people in our generation and previous ones are conflict invigorated - they've perhaps always got a baseline of creativity and striving, but it really comes out when a fight breaks out.
"Competition is always a fantastic thing, and the computer industry is intensely competitive." - Bill Gates
I woke up and stumbled to the front door to check for packages. I wasn't really expecting one, but you can never be too sure. To my surprise there was a small brown box waiting on the doorstep for me. What had I ordered? I couldn't remember. I walked back inside and tore the package open.
Inside was a book and a board game. Not just any book and board game, though - they were abominations thrust in in front of my virgin eyes. The game was called A Hot Affair and the book was Penthouse: Naughty by Nature: Female Readers' Sexy Letters to Penthouse. Confused, I check the shipping address. Sure enough they weren't meant for me.
They were my neighbor's.