So I just finished reading this article in the May 16th issue of The New Yorker Magazine by Malcom Gladwell. It’s pretty interesting to me.
We have come to love Steve Jobs. He built Apple, with Steve Wozniak, was fired from Apple, was hired back and re-built it into one of the most successful companies and brands in the world. Truly unbelievable. But you see, Jobs is a smart guy, no one could ever claim otherwise. Sure, there are some horror stories out there about his control issues and things, but I’d have to say his vision has served the company and humanity pretty well. But no one person succeeds or fails on their own, no matter what they do in life. More often than not, they are standing on the shoulders of giants.
You see in the piece Gladwell describes Jobs introduction to the mouse in 1979 at the Xerox PARC facility in Palo Alto, CA. At the time, this facility contained the greatest minds in computing technology creating amazing things for Xerox. One of them was the personal computer that allowed the cursor to be moved around using what was called a “mouse”. The story goes that Jobs got very very excited and saw something that no one else did. The future. Jobs admitted later that had Xerox known what they had, they would have been as big as I.B.M., Microsoft and probably the largest high-tech company in the world.
Jobs did what any visionary would do, he immediately went to his designers and engineers and had them change course in everything. And thus the Macintosh was born. Now granted, this is an oversimplification of what actually happened, but the point is this, nothing is new. Even the guys at Xerox PARC didn’t create the “mouse” or the idea. That was someone at the Stanford Research Institute. So, there was no real theft, just a re-interpretation. Nothing wrong with that and it’s legal.
Now stick with me on this. There are two points I am going to make.
1. Nothing is new. Somewhere, somehow, someone has done something like you want to do. Whatever it is, almost nothing is new anymore. They may not have done it as well as you think you can. They may not have the same vision that you do. But without a doubt, some facsimile of what you want to do has been done. So, if you are creative and you think you can’t do anything because everything has been done, well you are right. It has all mostly been done, but it hasn’t been done BY YOU! So try, get off your fucking arse and create if you so desire. Don’t use some lame excuse “Oh well, so and so already did that.” Big fucking deal. Stop putting up barriers for you to do anything. Grow a set and put your own spin on it and try…and try again…and continue to try. Don’t use excuses like that to stop you from doing something. If you let that paralyze you then it just means you are lazy and insecure and those two things have absolutely NO place in any creative environment.
2. Make no mistake about it, Steve Jobs is standing on the shoulders of giants. These guys who created what we all use day after day didn’t get any credit for the mouse as we know it today, but Jobs saw something they didn’t and he got all the credit…and the lions share of the money. Well, isn’t this true in love as well? You fall in love and it doesn’t work out for whatever reason and you mourn and then you move on. And it may happen again…and again…and again, but let’s presume eventually you meet the right person. Well, when you do, YOU are standing on the shoulders of giants. All those people that came before the one you choose to spend your life with, YOU are on THEIR shoulders. You are taking the skills and knowledge you gained from them and manipulating it around to make it fit your current situation. It doesn’t mean anything other than maybe take a look at some of those people you are now standing on. Maybe they weren’t the best of people, but I suspect they weren’t the worst.
Now of course, there will be people out there who say “Well, my friend has only dated one person, they were high school sweethearts” or whatever and that is awesome. Make no mistake, it is pretty fucking cool. But these days, that is not the norm. The majority of us struggle to find someone who can handle our crazy and whose crazy we can handle. But when you DO find that person you are using all that knowledge you gained from your experiences to know what the what is. You are standing on the giants of all those past relationships, be they good or bad. Someone else will reap the benefits of your struggles, your heartache and oh so many other things. But that’s OK, right? Because you have to believe that what you did was right and just. With luck, whoever the person is will look back fondly and think “Shit, I learned a lot from that person.”
And wouldn’t it just be fantastic to become as wealthy in love as Steve Jobs is with money? Sure the money would be nice, but I think I’d take the love over the dough any day. I’d like to find myself sitting atop my giants someday and resting peacefully in love with someone. Someday. Someday.