Jobs was a Buddhist. You’d think perhaps he became that way for all the wealth that he accumulated so that it wouldn’t mess with his head.
He was popular–like a rock star–and people clamored to benefit from his presence. He needed to maintain his privacy. He also needed to take care to not give all his energy away-especially when he got ill-to save it for what was important like his family. To the end he was very protective of his private life and his time.
But the truth of the matter is Steve had been a Buddhist since the early seventies, several years before Apple Computer was formed in 1976.
You only have to look at Apple’s products to see the Zen-like influence on Apple’s simplicity in design, form and function. Steve Jobs understood the Yin and Yang part of the Taoist/Buddhist philosophy. This excerpt from Wikipedia on Yin and Yang to me describes Jobs and his sense of creativity.
“…Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall. Thus, a seed will sprout from the earth and grow upwards towards the sky – an intrinsically yang movement. Then, when it reaches its full potential height, it will fall.”
Jobs would come out with an amazing product, go away for a while then return with an even more amazing version of it and/or a whole new and astonishing product. Act and Reflect. Yin and yang.
Steve wasn’t a practicing Buddhist, but it surely seems that the Eastern mental discipline and Zen vision was certainly an influence.
“Focus and simplicity” were the foundation of Apple’s ethic, said Jobs. This approach helped him stay grounded yet open to all the advances he would make throughout his tenure as head of his company.
He went on to say in an interview for Businessweek in 1998:
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
We all know he moved worlds of mountains. Unfortunately, for us, we’ll never know the ‘full potential height’ he could have reached if he hadn’t ‘fallen’ so soon.
But, the man who had his feet on the ground and head in the clouds left us with an important message to remember from his Stanford Commencement Address of 2005:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.