No other CEO is as respected and revered as Steve Jobs.
But why? What makes him so intriguing? What does Steve have that other don’t?
The answer is, of course, a lot of things.
But the one thing that sets him apart, the one thing that makes him so successful, is his ability to lead innovation, and more specifically his ability to know a good idea when he sees it.
In the 1980’s he saw a demonstration at Xerox of the mouse and graphical user interface (GUI) and instantly recognized it as the perfect technology combination for the personal computer. He borrowed the idea and created the Mac.
In the 1990’s he saw a demonstration of a new animation software program developed by George Lucas and company. He bought the company from Lucas and combined it with great storytelling and created Pixar and the first computer-animated feature film: "Toy Story."
And about ten years ago he saw the first MP3-player and recognized it as a truly innovative form or personal entertainment. He combined that with an integrated website (ITunes) and cutting edge industrial design from Jonathan Ive and created the IPod. Steve Jobs has what we call in the business: Creative Intuition. The ability to sense a good idea.
This is a result, no doubt, of his contrasting personality traits.
You see, Steve is notorious for being highly critical one moment and highly optimistic the next, often about the exact same idea. Over time, this gives him a sense of the idea he is looking for: it’s one that has “these traits” (from his optimistic viewpoint), but doesn’t have “those traits” (from his pessimistic viewpoint).
You and I will never possess this skill to the same degree that Steve has, for it’s innate in his personality, but we can develop it by consciously doing what he does subconsciously. By being both optimistic and pessimistic as we develop new ideas and solve our own problems. As Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, said, “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.”
And intuition, my friends, is the result of positive and negative judgments.