Seeking inspiration (and new ways to approach this goal), I purchased the new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson as soon as it was available. And I loved every word of its 656 pages.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to write anything (even a blog post), you’ll know that the creative process is never simple. In fact, a key takeaway from the book for me was that simplicity requires relentless effort, revisions, editing, and reediting.
Given the runaway success of all things Apple, one might assume that the iPad and iPod had easy births. However, Jobs dispels this myth, saying, “It takes a lot of hard work…to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.” Isaacson notes, “Jobs had aimed for simplicity that comes from conquering complexities, not ignoring them.”
To conquer these complexities, Jobs went with his gut. While creating the iPad for instance, instead of doing consumer research to find out what people wanted, Jobs expressed Apple’s approach as, “We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too.”
In addition to the tireless pursuit of an elegant solution, Jobs encountered other speed bumps on the road to success. His former CFO Joe Graziano infamously dismissed the Apple Store concept by saying, “Apple’s problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers."
Fortunately for Jobs, at the end of the day, his naysayers became inconsequential because he had the internal resources to see his vision through.
After spending some time processing Jobs’ situation, I began thinking about times when I didn’t succeed in realizing my own vision. Was there anything about my mindset in those situations that got in the way? How could stronger internal fortitude help me slay those “I can’t do this” thoughts that arise when facing a difficult challenge?
With a little introspection, here are a few lessons I came up with:
1. The little voice inside your head doesn’t always require medication. In fact, I’ve found that ignoring that voice has always gotten me into trouble. In the early years of forming extrovertic, I sometimes didn’t push enough on some critical fronts. When starting a business, there will always be things that get in the way of pushing yourself to the limit. So, trust your instincts and push, push, push for a better solution.
2. Leaders—broadcast the little voices in your heads. On a personal level, it’s not always easy to be relentless. As extrovertic has grown from a 4- to a 40-person agency, I’ve realized that success is directly linked to the performance of each and every extrovert. To gain maximum leverage, my job is to set the bar high and keep raising it.
1. Do not be a “blame sponge.” When I was at Pfizer, during our first attempt at building a patient database, I got myself into a lot of trouble for accepting cockamamie excuses for numbers that made absolutely no sense. I blamed myself for not understanding. Finally, I found someone who could explain to me what had gone wrong and how to fix it. We then made a plan, executed it, and built a functional database.
So that’s the tack I am going to take in my quest for simple, elegant solutions. Does any of this resonate with you? How do you bolster your inner resolve to achieve your goals?