December 8, 1980. 9.15 AM. Mumbai, India. Heard on the radio that John Lennon was assassinated. For a 17 year-old, who grew up with songs like Imagine and Give Peace a Chance, it was a devastating moment. I had lost a giant who defined the context for me and for my entire generation. What made it difficult was the suddenness of it. He was just 40. Just when it felt like he was at the beginning of another inspiring run. I missed him, not just because of his music but because I didn’t know who else would articulate my dreams and passions.
Three decades later, I feel the same way about losing Steve Jobs, suddenly and at a young age. There is a lot of stuff out there lionizing him. Where we held a candle-lit vigil for John that one night in December, the Internet and digital world that Jobs helped create has resulted in a 24/7 outpouring of the love, admiration, and acknowledgement of his impact on all our lives. I will miss him. Without him, who will create great innovations? Who will integrate design and technology to change how we experience content?
Both Steve and John have created legacies that will continue to inspire and define the world we inherit. The kind, giants do, a few times each generation. How do they do this?
A lot of Steve’s quotes are being used by people. The one from his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 provides great insight into what made him successful. He said “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose”. A poignant point-of-view, that clearly shows his lack of fear – of consequences or of failure.
This lack of fear is the one common factor that enables people like John and Steve to create gigantic legacies. Can we find a way to do the same?