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The Failures of Steve Jobs

I’ve been reading the eulogies about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs with great interest.  There is no question that he was our Edison – a brilliantly gifted and visionary leader.  But as most of these stories focus on his remarkable success, I’m much more drawn to his failures.  They were public, and they were big.  Remember the Apple III in 1980?  Probably not.  It was Jobs first attempt at a business computer.  It was rushed to the market with so many issues it was abandoned a few years later.  How about Lisa in 1983?  It borrowed elements like the mouse, windows and menus from Xerox’s famous Palo Alto Research Center. But at $10,000, no one could afford it.  After getting a humiliating boot from Apple, he launched a new company called NEXT in 1988.  They created a machine academics liked, but still, no one could afford.

The list goes on, including the Power Mac G4 Cube.  All were embarrassing glitches, but not once did Steve Jobs give up.  In fact, in almost every case, he salvaged parts of each dud and turned them into something better.  Something that eventually became successful.

The question is – what do you do with your failures?  If you don’t have any, you’re not doing much.  And if you do, are you using them to get to the next level?  Are you salvaging the GOOD ideas inside the failure, to create your next great success?

Steve Jobs never let failure define him.  As a result, he really did change the world.

Is there a failure you’ve had to leave behind – or better yet, is there a failure you’re in right now that you need to salvage some things from, let it go, and refocus on the future?

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  1. “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.” Steve Jobs – he apparently applied this same principle to his failures too.
    I failed at my fist pilot I produced. Someone at work dropped the ball on the project; I picked it up with enthusiasm and ran with it. I was given wrong info from a “working producer” and had incompetent crew members. They were all I had available to me via my employer. It didn’t even get edited because we knew it was so bad! I learned a lot from that project: don’t pick up dropped balls to save a project unless you know you have people who know what they’re doing. I didn’t know enough either, but was hoping to learn. I learned all the things not to do if I ever get that opportunity again. Failure is a great teacher. This is a good post Phil. Thank you!

  2. As an owner of the Cube I LOVED it! Still have it in a box if anyone wants to buy it 😉 

    Phil, I’d add the Newton to Steve’s glorious failures.

    Here is a post I wrote about failure a while ago. “Success Is 99% Failure” (excuse the formatting)

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