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The American Spirit, Issue #030, Steve Jobs: Focused Like a Laser
March 31, 2016

Steve Jobs: Focused Like a Laser

Apple founder Steve Jobs changed the world of technology. Of his many great leadership qualities, his ability to focus was perhaps most important.

BY GERALD FLURRY Steve Jobs is widely regarded as the greatest CEO of all time. By the time he died of cancer in October 2011, Apple was the most valuable corporation on Earth. His unique approach to business made the Apple brand stand out above its competition—and above every organization in any field. He reached the height of success in the physical realm, but there is so much more to be gained from the human experience.

Jobs possessed the rare ability to focus like a laser on his objectives. “I’ve freed up some good engineers who could work on new mobile devices, and eventually got it right when we moved on to iPhones and the iPad,” he said. “This ability to focus saved Apple.” At the time, Apple was trying to produce an incalculable number of gadgets. Jobs pared that down to just four: one desktop and one portable device each for both the consumer and the professional.

The word focus can refer to adjusting the lens of a camera to fixate sharply on one object. We can develop this ability figuratively. Focus is a foundational tool for success. Few possess it. Even fewer possess the ULTIMATE SUCCESS FOCUS.

It Takes Love

Steve Jobs was the greatest CEO ever, so it’s no surprise that he gave the most-quoted commencement address of all time at Stanford University in 2005. Here is an excerpt:

I was lucky—I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years, Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation—the Macintosh—a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew, we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so, things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30, I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down—that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me—I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

God’s own people failed to love His truth! Because of that, they lost their focus. They don’t face trials and keep pushing forward like Steve Jobs did; they just give up because they don’t love God anyway. Fifty percent of them will eventually repent, but the other half never will. It is impossible to focus on anything if it is not the absolute priority in that moment. Jobs continued:

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Steve Jobs focused so intensely on producing great products that many brilliant minds couldn’t handle working for him. Only those who shared his passion for perfection could rise to the challenge. Time magazine quoted Jobs talking about the creation of the iPhone, which debuted in stores in 2007:

[T]here always seems to come a moment where it’s just not working, and it’s so easy to fool yourself—to convince yourself that it is when you know in your heart that it isn’t. Well, you know what? It’s been that way with [almost] every major project at Apple, too. … Take the iPhone. We had a different enclosure design for this iPhone until way too close to the introduction to ever change it. And I came in one Monday morning, I said, “I just don’t love this. I can’t convince myself to fall in love with this. And this is the most important product we’ve ever done.” And we pushed the reset button. We went through all of the zillions of models we’d made and ideas we’d had. And we ended up creating what you see here as the iPhone, which is dramatically better. … [W]e had to go to the team and say, “All this work you’ve [done] for the last year, we’re going to have to throw it away and start over, and we’re going to have to work twice as hard now because we don’t have enough time.” And you know what everybody said? “Sign us up.”

Jobs scrapped the iPhone! By all accounts, it was a quality piece of technology, but it wasn’t perfect. If Jobs couldn’t fall in love with it, then no consumer ever would. So his team started over. History will show that Jobs made the right decision: Time named the iPhone the Invention of the Year.

Combine FOCUS with a DEEP LOVE for the subject, and you can “make a dent in the universe,” as Jobs often described his life’s purpose. If your heart isn’t in it, you will lose focus.

Full of Light

“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:34-36). Proper focus requires not only concentration on one clear goal, but also the right goal to pursue. There are a multitude of areas where we can direct our focus, but certain areas are far more important than others. Some areas are good, and others are evil.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). You can’t serve God and money! It must be one or the other. God is concerned about WHERE and HOW we focus.

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). In all you do—marriage, family, work, recreation—God will give you success if you focus with “singleness of your heart”!

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). This is the real key to developing the ultimate success focus. Is our main focus on material riches on this Earth? God wants to give us the universe! (Hebrews 1-2). It is so easy to confine our view to this physical Earth and forget about the incredible reward that God is offering.

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:25). Christ goes on to say that if He provides for the birds and the lilies, why wouldn’t He give us so much more? (verses 26-32). He tells us to take no thought—not to be worried so much about physical things. Real life goes far beyond this temporary existence.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (verse 33). Here it is! God’s Kingdom should be your ULTIMATE SUCCESS FOCUS! Then you will experience the most joyful and successful life imaginable. The Ultimate Success Focus

Remember, "greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world".

Shalom,

Luis Castillo

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