As I was reading the eulogy given by Steve Jobs’ sister at his funeral, it touched me deeply to know that even though Mr. Jobs was somewhat of an anomaly, it is still possible for those in a position of power to lead people with exceptional humility, grace, gratitude, inspiration, and admiration (or as a dear friend of mine said this weekend during an insightful lecture, “through what the Buddha might have called Wise Intention and Wise Action.”)
Jobs was a big proponent of following through on his word. He also believed in treating people with kindness. As his wealth and status grew, I am awed at how his ability for compassion seemed to grow with it. He was indeed a rare gem in a world filled with “leaders” who currently focus on amassing their own wealth and power, usually at the sake of others. What I think fascinated me most about the eulogywas the reference his sister made to Jobs capacity for love. I am a cynic, a realist, I love irony, and for a number of years I taught and practiced Yoga. To me, this statement didn’t seem like fit a man who continually created and re-created ways to connect with each other through advancements in technology.
Anne Lamont once wrote in her book, Bird by Bird, “If you want to know how God Feels about money, look at whom He gives it to.” This seemed to provide some level of comfort to me when I would check my numbers after each drawing, only to learn I hadn’t won the lottery again this week. It also helped make sense of the irony that a man who owns a slew of Yoga Studios could be a cocaine addict, alcoholic, embezzler, Narcissist, and a long list of other frightening qualities could continually be successful, regardless of the fact that he was manipulating, bullying and abusing people who put their loyalty and trust in him…..because of God “feels about money”. It made sense to me that if God thinks lowlifes deserve money, then that was why the Goldman Sachs of Yoga was so successful. Yet, here was Jobs breaking the conventional barrier of what it meant to have wealth and power and not abuse it, but use it to make the world, not just his own life, better.
The more I have learned about the wonderful things that this man did to improve the lives of others and decrease their suffering during the short time he was alive (and it was indeed far too short), the more convinced I am that we as a society shirk our responsibilities to care for our fellow man far too often. I am the admit that I have unrelenting standards – I do. It seems odd to me that if I expect to be treated in the same manner that I treat you that I am expecting too much, yet this is how our society has begun to morph.
A month ago, I made a commitment to reapply the first of the Four Agreements to my life, to Be Impeccable with Your Word. I chose to let my actions speak for my character, I chose to get off of Facebook and I chose to start living life again instead of being caught up in the spiral of grief the past two years have caused. I do not, for one second, believe that Jobs helped propel the evolution of technology forward just so that we as a society could post nonsensical things on social networking sites every moment we decide to use our outside voice when sharing random inner thoughts. I have enough of my own thoughts, I don’t need to take yours on as well, thank you.
Much of this technology seems to have landed in a wasteland outside of brilliance, rather landing inside the land of betterment of humanity. It will be interesting to see if people who were my “friends” on Facebook remain my friends now that I am not a click and a like away. The cynical part of me says that only a handful of people will put forth the effort to send an email, or make a phone call – something that came so easily to us just a few years ago to reach out to say hello, yet now we make the excuse we are too busy. Actions speak louder than words – if you say you are too busy to call a friend, yet you have the time to take/teach 3 yoga classes in a day, your actions say that you really only think about your needs without regard to others. I make this judgment because that is exactly what it said about me when I relay the same excuse to my friends. In reality, you have control over your time, so if you are too busy to stay connected to your friends or family, maybe it time to ask if life requires some re-prioritization.
It would have been my great honor to have had one conversation with Steve Jobs, or maybe to have been his friend. I will have to rely on those who knew him best to continue to share his words and tell about his actions, of how he chose to live in a way that gave life, rather than took from it. It seems as though leaders like Steve Jobs, Mahomet Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, or the Dalai Lama touch this earth far less often than leaders like Mr. Yoga Studio Owner do. It takes hard work, diligence and resolve to stay impeccable with your word. It takes constant awareness and being continually present in each moment. It takes dedication, trust and faith. Even more challenging is that it takes the willingness to try and fail, and to not take things personally if they do – which is the Second Agreement, according to Ruiz.
But, if some beautifully artistic computer geek from Palo Alto can do it, then I think I can put forth the effort to at least try and do the same. Thank you, Mr. Jobs for dedication and willingness to continue to inspire those around you. You have inspired me to look past my cynicism and see great leadership is possible.