Living Life Tricks

Steve Jobs was an enigma for those of us deeply immersed in technology. He was a genius who drove the Pixar movie studio to become a significant force in Hollywood. He was a genius who rescued the company he founded, Apple, from the doldrums and not only created a company with immense financial value, he brought us some great computers (I have a MacBook Pro), the iPad (which I’m using to compose and publish this post), the iPod (where I stored my music and podcast library and used when I worked out), and the iPhone (which replaced my iPod, Palm Pilot and various mobile phones).

He also was an arrogant jerk by all reports, but people who worked for him were intensely loyal.

He also left behind some ideas worth hacking into our own lives to become more productive and meaningful.


I read a story about Steve when he first returned to Apple and sat in a product review meeting. I use the story often when advising companies or people.

It seems he listened to product managers describe an extensive array of products that Apple was producing. He got up and said something to the effect of let’s cut out the crap. We’ll focus on a limited number of desktop computers and a limited number of laptops. And we’ll make these great.

And they did.

Focus is so important. We get distracted so easily into so many things. Then we accomplish little. And it is so easy to slide out of focus.

Throw the crap out of your life. Focus on the few things that are important. Children, family, the one thing that will make your work or ministry most effective. Be great at it.


There is a story that comes from Apple, but it is a technique I used in the mid-80s when I managed project managers designing and building machines.

We would get toward the end of a project and the customer would come in and things would be floundering. I’d get up, go to the white board and draw a matrix. I’d list the tasks to be done, who was responsible, and the due date for completion. It’s said that at Apple all meeting should end with a list of tasks and a directly responsible individual.

If you are leading a team of any kind, or even within your family, practice defining tasks and delegating by putting someone in charge. Some managers think that they need to do it all. Some people think that they need to do it all. Say no and delegate to others.

Get more experiences

Jobs was a legend in the technology industry. He had a Liberal Arts background (I don’t think he completed the degree). Famously, he started just auditing a bunch of classes just for the heck of it. He took a calligraphy class. From that experience, he made the first Macintosh a much better machine and revolutionized the computer industry.

I appreciate that because I had a technology background but didn’t finish that degree. I wound up with a Liberal Arts degree and became a staunch believer in the classic Liberal Arts. Not as “soft” subjects that are an easy way to a degree like it became in the 70s.

I took a wide variety of courses that confounded my advisor. Math, extra foreign languages, writing, literature, philosophy, international politics and culture. I learned to learn, think, communicate. The basics of an educated person.

  • Take some way-out courses
  • Travel
  • Meet new people
  • Say yes to one new work experience or ministry
  • Learn another language

Someone on TV used to have “stupid dog tricks.” Try doing some smart life tricks. And it’s never too late.

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