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Dec11

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Steve Jobs: The Mindset that Enabled the Magic

We all know he made big differences. And we list those differences by naming the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone.

But Steve Jobs was different in a more particular, private way that we don't talk about much; a way that actually enabled all theother differences that we do all talk about, every day.

Jobs saw himself not just as his role in a particular career, or his identity in his family, or as a passionate practitioner of any number of other interests.

He also saw himself as a single life in a big cosmic universe that was not always his to control, that was unpredictable and full of change both wanted and unwanted, and remained open to what was in store from either side.

In his 2005 commencement address to Stanford University, Jobs told the story about having dropped out of college, yet shortly thereafter hanging around a typography class. He said that he had no idea whether that class would have any long-term relevance to his life.

But he called on that appreciation for the beauty and craft of typography later when creating the essence of what was so different, so human, about the Mac.

He talked about being fired by the board of Apple. Many would shrink back in permanent self-doubt after being fired by the company they started.

He just bought Pixar instead.

I would argue Steve Jobs saw life experiences as things to collect, and as they added up, things to put together, consciously or unconsciously, to make whole new better things; new life experiences made richer by the combinations of experiences that made them up.

He brought the same view to creativity at Apple. He said that creativity is about combining what already exists with other things that already exist - it's about putting together, in new ways, what we already have.

Later in that commencement address Jobs said that looking back on his life, over all those ups and downs, he could see that the dots all connected.

The legacy of Steve Jobs, if we pay close enough attention, is about more than brilliant gadgets. It's about a perspective on life that never allowed its ups and downs to define him; rather enabled him to greet every encounter as a new dot in his collection.

And he lived trusting those dots would connect.