Steve Jobs and His Burning Passion to Be Perfect

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Steve Jobs and His Burning Passion to Be Perfect

Lessons from the greatest CEO ever
From the January 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

At the time of his death last October, Steve Jobs was overseeing the most valuable corporation on Earth. He was the primary author of the spectacular success of Apple Inc., which is why many say he was the greatest ceo ever.

There is a lot we can learn from Mr. Jobs. In fact, many of his most exceptional traits are endorsed in God’s Word.

Perhaps his most distinctive and empowering quality, as well as his most important, was that he was a perfectionist. In a world that tolerates and even exalts imperfection, the success Mr. Jobs achieved because of his quest for perfection is worth pondering.

The Case of the Imperfect Case

In every detail of creating computers and gadgets—even in building the Apple empire and its distinct, almost mesmerizing culture—Steve Jobs wanted everything to be perfect. This desire for the perfect gadget, the perfect product launch, the perfect Apple store, propelled him to unrivaled success more than anything else.

Just six weeks before the iPod was scheduled to be unveiled in 2001, it had a plastic screen. Suddenly Jobs became convinced that plastic would scratch too easily and that the screen should be glass. His decision to make the change sent shock waves through the company: Designers, engineers and technicians were sent scrambling to redesign the casing. “No other ceo on Earth would have made that call,” wrote Time magazine (Oct. 17, 2011).

Steve Jobs didn’t care about the added cost or how the media would react. His primary focus was on releasing the most perfect product possible!

During the creation of the Apple ii computer in the late 1970s, Jobs had to choose the color of the casing and was given 2,000 shades of beige to choose from. Not one was good enough for Jobs. He wanted to create his own perfect shade of beige.

Even as a boy watching his father work on cars, Steve, writes Walter Isaacson in his book Steve Jobs, was “fascinated by the need for perfection.”

Jobs demanded the highest-quality screws be used on components inside the computer. He even insisted on beautiful finishes inside, even though only repairmen would ever see it. “Jobs … always indulged his obsession that the unseen parts of a product should be crafted as beautifully as its facade, just as his father had taught him when they were building a fence,” Isaacson writes.

What a unique way of thinking: creating a product that is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. No wonder Apple products are in such high demand!

The determination to reach perfection is a remarkable quality. In a very real sense, it points us to God! In Matthew 5:48, Jesus Christ commands His followers, “Be [or become] ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This is a profound scripture. It really encapsulates the gospel of God! It is all about human beings actually becoming like God Himself! God is a perfectionist!

Being a perfectionist is a godly quality—which is why it works.

Steve Jobs embodied this quality in his pursuit of the perfect gadget, and look at the success he attained in that arena. Christ challenges us to apply it in the areas of our life that really matter most!

How much of a perfectionist are you? Do you strive for the perfect marriage, the perfect children? Do you labor to produce the most perfect product possible at work? If we do this, good things will happen. God tells us to develop that quest for perfection in everything we do!

Vision

Proverbs 29:18 says that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Whether we apply this spiritually or even to our physical life—our job, our marriage, our family—it remains true: People need vision. In order to truly succeed, we need to have our mind fixed on the goal—something big, something important to pursue and aspire to.

Steve Jobs was always fixated on his ultimate vision.

In 1983, Jobs was searching for a ceo to run Apple. He approached John Scully, who was working at Pepsi-Cola at the time and seemed uninterested in the position. Finally, after months of unsuccessfully petitioning Scully to join the Apple team, Jobs told him flatly: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water? Or do you want a chance to change the world?

This man wasn’t in the computer business simply to create gadgets, or build a global corporation, or even to transform the computer industry. His ultimate ambition was to “change the world.”

Jobs has often been quoted as telling his co-workers, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe.” That was his goal for Apple, and he did his best to make it the goal of every employee working at Apple.

How far-reaching is your vision? God has given human beings a potential that will stretch your imagination to its limits! He wants that vision to propel us onward and upward, to motivate us to seek greatness! You can learn about that vision in our book The Incredible Human Potential. We will send you a copy for free.

Steve Jobs had a novel way of recruiting employees in 1981. During the interview process he would bring the candidate into a room where a prototype of the Mac was covered by a cloth. Then, with great drama, he would rip the veil from his creation—and then watch their reaction. “If their eyes lit up, if they went right for the mouse and started pointing and clicking,” recalled Andrea Cunningham, “Steve would smile and hire them.”

Jobs surrounded himself with people who loved Apple. He only wanted to work with people who had the same vision, the same hopes and dreams for Apple’s products and services. When asked what he looked for when hiring a senior executive, Jobs responded, “They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, are they going to fall in love with Apple?

This too is a biblical principle. God is building a team of people who are united in their enthusiasm for His plans and His way of life. Above all He wants men and women “after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22). He tells us, through the Apostle Paul, to “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,” and to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

One of the greatest challenges in creating an Apple product was striking the balance between aesthetic appeal and engineering. Steve Jobs didn’t just want the best product technologically: He also wanted it to be visually appealing, as simple and pure as possible.

From an engineering standpoint, this was never easy. Often, the engineers or manufacturers would tell Jobs that he was demanding the impossible, and style would simply have to be compromised. Jobs would always fire back, We are going to do it! An employee who continued to fail to believe would be fired.

Jobs couldn’t stand to work with naysayers, people who were negative and hadn’t fully bought into his vision. He knew that such people would drain him and the rest of his team of optimism and energy.

Even this principle has a biblical corollary. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” the Prophet Amos wrote. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul wrote: “Make no mistake: ‘Bad company is the ruin of a good character’” (New English Bible).

Focus

Steve Jobs’s clear vision of what he wanted enabled him to have a laser-like focus on what he wanted to accomplish. He often told his executives that deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.

Though he had co-founded Apple in 1976, Jobs was fired in 1985. When he returned to the company in 1997, it was a mess. Jobs immediately undertook a survey of the company, its employees and its products—and what he discovered infuriated him. There were too many products, too many versions of software, too many competing visions for the company.

He spent months working to sort through the morass. Finally, in a product strategy session, Jobs yelled “Stop!” This is crazy, he said. He went to the whiteboard and drew a horizontal line and a vertical line to make a four-squared chart. Here’s what we’re going to do, he explained: Apple is going to makeone productfor each quadrant. Instead of developing multiple different products and even expanding into other industries, he wanted Apple to focus on one industry, and on three or four products.

Within months of his return, Apple had cut 70 percent of its models and products, and was devoting all its resources to a handful of projects. This new, acutely focused strategy paid off, and soon the company was growing again.

According to Isaacson, Steve Jobs’s ability to focus—and to force those around him to focus—“saved Apple.”

Once again, Jobs was employing a spiritual principle. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus told His followers, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” God knows that if our lives are scattered in too many directions, we will fail at everything. The truly important things will get crowded out by trivialities. “When thine eye is single,” Jesus said, “thy whole body is also full of light” (Luke 11:34). God demands that we maintain our focus on what really matters.

The Missing Component

Like all men, Steve Jobs had his share of flaws. Steve Wozniack, his partner at Apple and the man largely responsible for the engineering behind the empire, said he could “never trust his [Jobs’s] integrity.”

This great computer magnate was self-centered, highly combustible and often brutally honest with his criticisms. Early in his career he had a child out of wedlock. Although he was a millionaire and powerful man at the time, he rejected his daughter and humiliated her mother in the national press.

Despite all his material success, Steve Jobs was constantly searching for spiritual enlightenment. As a young man, this search led him to some pretty intensive drug use. He went to college for six months, where he became interested in Zen Buddhism. He grew close to prominent spiritual gurus and would regularly participate in bizarre rituals.

In 1974, Jobs told his bosses at Atari that he was quitting his job and going to India in search of a religious guru who could help him find himself. About his jaunt to India, Jobs later said: “For me it was a serious search. I’d been turned on to the idea of enlightenment and trying to figure out who I was and how I fit into things.” Daniel Kottke, a friend of Jobs at the time, recalled that “there was a hole in him, and he was trying to fill it.”

That hole stayed with Jobs his whole life. After returning from India, he continued his search for enlightenment. Despite his intellectual and creative brilliance, spiritually he was a deeply confused man. “I think different religions are different doors to the same house,” he said once. “Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t. It’s the great mystery.”

A few months before he died, Jobs was talking with Isaacson about the meaning of life and the existence of God. “I’m about 50-50 on believing in God,” he said. “For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye.”

Isn’t that sad? This man had spent a lifetime searching the planet for a Higher Authority, and the best conclusion he could draw was there is “more to our existence than meets the eye.”

This brilliant, highly educated man transformed the world with his dazzling gadgets. He was rich and powerful. He could pick up the phone and talk to presidents and prime ministers, to ceos and scientists. He received private concerts from world-class artists. He could go anywhere and do anything, no matter the expense. He had everything!

Everything, that is, except what he wanted most: spiritual enlightenment.

Jobs revolutionized the computer industry, the movie industry, the cell phone industry, the music industry—and really the world—with his technology. Yet he never discovered the answers to life’s most basic and important questions. During one of his last conversations with Isaacson, Jobs mused about how he’d like to believe something great was in store for humans after they die. Then again, he stated, “perhaps [life] is like an on-off switch. Click! And you’re gone.”

He even joked that “maybe this was why I never liked to put on-off switches on Apple devices.”

Sad, isn’t it? Steve Jobs transformed human existence with his technology, but he never figured out why humans exist. He never figured out whether there is a God. Or if man was put on Earth for a specific reason. Or if there is life after death. This brilliant man died ignorant. Even Steve Jobs himself knew there was a missing component to his extraordinarily successful life.

What was it?

Put simply, this man lacked a relationship with the one omnipotent, all-powerful, living God!

What about you? Do you have a vibrant, active,productive relationship with God? You can!

The moment God created man is recorded in Genesis 1:26. Notice, God says “let us make man in our image, after our likeness ….” Have you ever wondered why God would create man after the image and likeness of God? In The Incredible Human Potential, Herbert Armstrong explains this stunning little verse: “But man was made in the form and shape of God, to have a special relationship with God—to have the potential of being born into the Family of God.”

Do you have a “special relationship with God”?

There are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible like Genesis 1:26. Short verses with profound, life-changing meaning. Verses that prove God exists, that explain why man was put on Earth, that explain God’s plan for man, that explain if there is life after death. Verses that provide riveting, practical knowledge that will transform your life.

If you would like to learn the answers to these questions, to find out why you were put on Earth, and how you can have a fresh, sincere relationship with God, then you need to study these Bible passages. To help you with that, we’d like to send you a free copy of Herbert Armstrong’s book The Incredible Human Potential.

Steve Jobs pursued the knowledge contained in this book all his life. Now you can have it free.