Edison. Ford. Disney. Jobs.
An era has ended, and we now sit to reflect on our good fortune for having lived in a time when a true giant walked the Earth. I had certainly contemplated his passing many times, but now that it has happened, I am struggling to grasp the concept that Steven Paul Jobs is gone and not coming back.
You can love or hate the man, his company, and his products. You can simply not care much either way. But there is no disputing that everything we know and think about technology today has been dramatically influenced in one way or another by Steve Jobs. His vision and leadership have repeatedly changed millions of lives for the better. He is one of the most significant individuals of our generation, of the last century, and when all is said and done, probably in the history of this world.
It’s not every day that the President of the United States writes a two-hundred word eulogy. To really see Steve’s impact on the world, though, you need to turn to his adversaries. Google’s Vic Gundotra, who famously skewered the man and his vision just last year, went out of his way to tell a long story of admiration and respect on Google+ when Jobs resigned as Apple’s CEO in August. Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and yes, Bill Gates have all chimed in following Wednesday’s news. Steve’s passing is a loss for the world. We are now left to think about what could have been.
It was only the day before that we watched an Apple event launching new hardware and software products. Steve was not in the building, but he sure as hell was watching on Tuesday. And I’m sure he was reviewing slides and demos to the very end. He held on for one last launch, the first out from under his tenure, to see for himself that his legacy was intact.
And so more than ever, I find myself inspired. Steve’s untimely death reminds us we can never give up. He could have given up at any point in the seven years since his first cancer diagnosis, but he did not. The vast majority of Apple’s unprecedented resurgence took place while Steve Jobs stared death in the face. How many of us could have lasted this long at all, let alone accomplish all that he did along the way?
Ten years ago today, we still had not yet met the iPod. The last of Steve’s five decades on this Earth ended up being his most accomplished by far. Remember that whenever you think your best days are behind you. We can’t control when our lives begin, and we can’t really control when they end. All we have is what’s in between. Make it count.