Nope, it’s not a typo in that title.  This post is about Steve Jobs, his companies, and his legacy.  Wednesday evening, I was shocked to learn of Jobs’ passing.  When I saw this article from eSchool News, I decided to learn more about this man who has had so much influence on American culture and technology.

Steve Jobs was a college drop-out, an irresponsible parent, and a failure.  Before you think I’m going to go on to say the cliche “but not anymore!” and go on to tell you how great he became, I’ll tell you right now, I’m not going to say that.  These things were true, and they continued to be true of Mr. Jobs.  The stigmatizing label of “college drop-out” didn’t go away because Steve Jobs eventually did something great.  After all, I just learned about it in an article written after his death. The fact that he lost the chance to be a father to his daughter for two years didn’t go away once he accepted her as his child. They can’t get those years back. And the scars of failure, I’m guessing, only become masked by the glories of success. They heal, but they leave their bearer forever changed.

Why is it, then, that we resonate with someone who had so many faults?  How can some celebrate him as somewhat of an American hero?

Steve Jobs set out to make “a dent in the universe.”  He wanted to bring something new to the world. And he certainly did. Apple and Pixar are two of the most revolutionary companies of our day. And without Jobs, neither would exist. (And I certainly wouldn’t be reading articles about Steve Jobs on my iPad!)  The reason we like Steve Jobs is that he made a difference. Very few of us can say we have gone without being impacted by Apple technology or touched by the heart-warming messages and adorable characters of a Pixar film.

At different points in his life, the world looked at Steve Jobs and saw a college drop-out, a parent who refused to acknowledge his own child, and a man who faced more major failures and defeats than most of us are ever likely to see.  But now, though those things haven’t changed, we look at Steve Jobs as an innovator, a genius, and a world-changer. We see him as an inspiration–someone who persevered and finally saw the rewards.  The key, however, was how Jobs saw himself.  It’s my guess that the idea of “making a dent in the universe” was never far from Steve Jobs’ mind. He didn’t see himself as a failure–he saw himself as a dent-maker. Even when no one else could see that in him, Steve Jobs, behind the scenes, was going full-speed ahead toward success.

Faced with life-threatening illness since 2003, Jobs said in a commencement speech in 2005, “Death is very likely the best invention of life. All pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

I think we can all admit that we have, at times, accepted the world’s view of us.  “I’m just a nobody.”  “I’m just a college student.”  “I’m just an ordinary teacher.”  But doing “well” in life doesn’t have to do with what the world thinks of you. It has to do with what you think of you, and what you do about it.

Here’s what I’m not going to say: “Get your thinking straight, believe in yourself, and you could be the next Steve Jobs!”

I don’t want you to become the next Steve Jobs. Because, guess what?  There won’t be a “next Steve Jobs.”

My challenge for you is to take a little bit of wisdom from a man who did extremely well in some areas, and maybe not so well in others: Think of yourself as a “dent-maker.”  Then go be the very best insert your name here that you can be. Because the world doesn’t need another Steve Jobs.

The world needs You.


Signing off,

A “Dent-Making” Teachable Spirit