Who Owns The Scale For Greatness?

Did you read this article about Steve Jobs published in an Indian newspaper. I stumbled upon it on Facebook. The article is titled ‘Steve Jobs wasn’t great; he wasn’t even close’. If you admired Steve Jobs or if you are a fan of well thought out and logical sentences, you won’t like that article.

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It is not completely clear to me if the author was against all the glowing praises that Steve has received upon his demise or if he is angry that many other influential people who have changed lives of their fellow humans did not get a similar reception. He seems seriously upset that Steve is being put in the same place as Jonas Edward Salk, the man who invented the polio vaccine and did not patent it, simply because the world calls them both ‘great’.
I did not know that the word ‘great’ has a narrow definition and is strictly enforced. It took me a while to realize that the author did not really think about what he was writing.

He goes on about how Apple did not really invent anything, since smartphones, touchscreen, mp3 players and distributable app repositories already existed before Apple or Steve came along. That’s like saying Mario Puzo did not invent ‘The Godfather’ since all the words he used were already existing. The man has no idea how disruptive innovation works.

Perhaps the most telling segment of the article was how he refutes the idea that Steve invented the personal computer. His argument is that Steve Jobs did not invent the personal computer. Apple invented the personal computer. Steve was simply the head of the company that invented it. The exact quote from the article is ‘Any man heading the company that has a product to sell can do what [Steve Jobs] did’.

This has to be the dumbest piece of argument I have heard in a long time. He is actually saying that leadership has nothing to do with results. Its a bit funny in a sick way that the guy, who is totally ignorant about what leadership means, is commenting about the greatness of the one of the most successful CEOs of the past two decades or so.

Clearly, the article was targeted to grab attention and generate reactions. I usually don’t give too much notice to bullshit articles like this, but what got me all riled up, besides the fact that this guy got to put his fatheaded sentences in a newspaper, is the audacity with which he refutes why someone is not great. I agree that one has the right to express their opinion, even if they are just pointless gibberish, but the sheer balls of this guy to pass judgement on who is and is not great is astonishing. I mostly support non-violence, but I might relax the rule for this fellow.

I always thought you earn greatness. If you are great, people will say so. If someone disagrees, they disagree; that’s it. But that does not mean the person’s greatness is not true. Many people hate Gandhi, and many think Sachin is not that great of a player. But that does not diminish in any way the influence that these men brought and the impact that they have delivered to people’s lives.

Steve Jobs may not be the greatest man ever lived; for sure. But in many ways, he is great. He was a visionary, an artist and a true salesman. He was not great because he gave away to charities, but he was great in the way he humanized machines. He showed the world of MBAs and focus groups that the human element is what makes a great product. Above all, he showed intuition and passion are the best skills one would ever need. Two things that can make anyone great.

To quote one of his best phrases “Stay foolish; Stay hungry”.

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