A Lesson From the Life of Steve Jobs

The Steve Jobs before cancer was quite different from the Steve Jobs after cancer. I read a news account where Mr. Jobs was boasting in an interview from long ago about how hard everyone worked at Apple, with many nights and weekends spent away from family (with the expected collateral damage of broken families and destroyed relationships). He even seemed to boast that somewhere in the world Apple people were working through Christmas just to get products right.

Why then, did Mr. Jobs seek out Walter Isaacson, the famous biographer to write a biography of him, given that he’d spent his life in so much secrecy publicly? Mr. Isaacson asked Jobs that question. His answer was that he had spent a lot of his life neglecting his family because he was focused on Apple and he wanted his kids to know why he had neglected them and what things were important to him.

You only have one opportunity in life to get things right. Your kids grow up; they move out; day-to-day interaction with them is over. You can’t get back the time you spent neglecting them.

Mr. Jobs tried to make up for this after the fact, which is admirable. One suspects that on his deathbed he wasn’t asking for all the cool products that he helped create to be placed around him so he could see and admire them, as if that would give him comfort. No. His family was around him when he died, as they should have been and as he no doubt wanted.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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