Someone my age passed away recently. I never met him. To my knowledge, I have never been in the same room or heard him speak. Yet, as an individual with a larger than life personality, his work touched the lives of millions, myself included. Since the news of his death surfaced, many have reflected on the products he was associated with as well as the future of the company that he started with a friend.
I keep hearing two questions. What is his legacy? Will it continue to live in the company?
When some talk of his legacy, their words often center on innovation, marketing, knowing what we needed before we did, and an attention to the details that made a difference. As I think of the complexity of the products, the role many others played in the process is clear. As a start, technologists, consumer specialists, marketing departments, business analysts, and project managers contributed! One could add manufacturing, research and development, data centers, and shipping to the list. I am confident that once started, one would quickly find that the list is endless.
What stands out in my mind is that a single individual had a vision. It did not always work out. There were great highs and devastating lows. Across both, the vision remained! He was relentless in his pursuit of the possible. In the difficult moments, he realized something we often miss. It is never just about the one, it is always more. He had struggled with the rhetorical question posed generations ago; “Do you—both women and men—imagine that you’re a sacred oracle determining what’s right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you?” (1 Corinthians 14.36) He had struggled and knew that the answer rested in a vision embraced by many.
As I think of the light and lessons he created, I see an invitation to you and me. In our own way, in our space and time, we can take this light and do something with it. It is an invitation, available to all. We are the difference.