News of the death of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs has captivated the world. In much the same way that his products captivated the hearts and minds of devoted Apple fans around the globe, Jobs, the man, has rightfully become the focus of fascination for what it means to be a creative genius, a tech entrepreneur and brilliant corporate leader.
In late August, after Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO, I wrote about how he made CEO worship cool again. The near godlike reverence for Jobs and his business acumen generated the kind of respect, admiration and hero worship a man of his caliber deserved. He was the kind of man that the world needs more of if we want to become a place that honors and respects men of the mind — men who truly move the world.
I’ve read a lot of tributes to Mr. Jobs detailing his achievements, applauding his genius and extolling his stewardship of the company he created, revived and built into perhaps the greatest technology success story in history. While these achievements are eminently laudable, what I think is even more important about Steve Jobs is what his life represents.
I see Jobs as the embodiment of the ideal businessman. A sort of real-life fictional protagonist that inspires not only business leaders, but people all over the world to achieve greatness in whatever field they’ve chosen. As human beings, we need to see achievement in action in order to know that life is worth living. We need to know that success and achieving values are possible here on earth.
One of the reasons why art is so vital to humans is that it serves to recreate reality based on the artist’s values. When we see a Greek sculpture idealizing the human form, or when we read the literature of Victor Hugo, Edmond Rostand or Ayn Rand, or when we listen to a Rachmaninoff concerto or an in-your-face rock anthem, we get inspired by the heroic nature of the forms, the characters and the mood that’s created.
In many ways, Steve Jobs was akin to these ideals represented in art. That’s because he put his own ideas and values into action via Apple, and the result was a heroic achievement of larger-than-life proportions.
Now, Jobs is by no means the only businessman that can be considered a hero. In fact, every day, in every city in America, there are heroic people putting their own ideas and values into action, and by doing so, they make the world a better place for us all. But due to his notoriety, unique approach to business and the iconic products he created, Steve Jobs serves a model protagonist for achieving values in the real world.
So, while the man may be gone, his posthumous role as a standard bearer of heroic achievement will live on — and that’s a legacy that can inspire us all.