Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Being a Visionary in the Digital Age

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011), co-founder of the Apple empire and soul of the cutting edge entrepreneur, will always be remembered  as a visionary, a marketer and an inventor. His death was widely mourned and he was considered to be a loss to the world by commentators around the world.

Jobs was not an engineer or a computer guru. Jobs was a maverick and self-made leader who today is remembered as one of the best entrepreneurs in the past century.  He understood consumers and the value of a good team working together to produce an elegant and cool product — as became the Apple Macintosh line of computers (first launched in 1984), Smart phones, MP3 players and iPods.

He said: 'Great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people.'

This man saw business opportunities arising from technology rather than simply the opportunity to create technology. When he recruited John Sculley, the Pepsi executive who would later force Jobs out of the company, he asked him: 'Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change  the world?'

For this reason, Jobs had little interest in studies of consumer habits or desires. 'It is not the consumers' job to know what they want?' he would say. According to him, a lot of times people do not know what they want until you show it to them.

As a peace activist writing this tribute, I would like to apply Job's central core of his genius in asking this about converting the conditions of war into peace:
  • Do you want to spend your time working on a centre for global nonkilling (with its central theme of not killing and not being killed), or do you want a chance to change the world?
  • Do you want to spend  your time in getting rid of arms trade (exposing war industry's trade shows and bazaars), or do you want a chance to change the world? 
  • Do you want to spend your time in abolishing nuclear weapons (by telling world leaders to abolish nuclear weapons), or do you want a chance to change the world? and   
  • Do you want to spend your time in creating a Department of Peace (a cabinet level department in the Executive Branch) in your country, or do you want a chance to change the world?
All of these goals are important for the health of our planet and ourselves. As concerned compassionate citizens of the world, we need to work on them with interest. patience and seriousness.

Yet as visionaries, we need to continually ask ourselves the question: What is it that we really want? For many, the answer is simple.
  • We want a world without war.
  • We want a world where everyone has the right to good free health care, free education, and the opportunity of having jobs, and the basic infrastructure (affordable housing, rich cultural supports, transportation facilities, safe and clean environment, and honest governance) to make our life comfortable and just.
  • We want a world that is becoming for us as responsible human beings. 

To me it seems clear that like the late Steve Job's, we need to have the genius for simplicity to discover and develop the essence of things. We need to work on creating the beautiful conditions that 'take away the occasion for wars' (as Quakers often say) and lead us to follow the Golden Rule of relationships. With the wisdom of Tolstoy, Gandhi and King, we need a chance to change the world. 


  1. Gunter Schaarschmidt12 October 2011 at 06:30

    Thank you for alerting me to new items on your Spirit-Wrstlers Blog. I very much enjoyed your write-up on Steve Jobs. About the tar sands, I am sure that the protests and your write-up will aid in the government's re-examination of the environmental damage of the project and, even if the entire project cannot be scrapped, work hard in reducing such damage.
    Again, many thanks.

  2. Thanks Koozma for sharing a very well-written and thought provoking article.

    Ottawa, Ontario

  3. Thank you Koozma for your beautifully written tribute to Steve Jobs. It is so true that if we are to change the world we need to do this as a team of humans with the "interest", "patience" and "seriousness" required. If we keep our compassionate focus on what we want, we will achieve our dream for as Buddha said, "we all have a Buddha within" to tap into as we move our collective dream forward.

    Ottawa, Ontario