• Keith Shaw

Steve Jobs Was Not a High Performer

When Steve Jobs is mentioned in business school and in posts on social media, the temperature is generally reverence for the ‘gifts’ he’s given the world. I don’t dispute that he and his firm Apple were paradigm shifters with respect to how we communicate and consume media content today. 

Despite his accomplishments though, Steve Jobs was not a high performer. If you’ve read Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography of Jobs, you’ll have read of his cruelty, callousness and senseless unfairness to those closest to him. Chapter seven, for instance, describes his behavior after discovering his girlfriend Chrisann was pregnant.

High performance is defined by the High Performance Institute as “succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long term, while maintaining well-being and positive relationships.” Jobs was singularly focused, to the detriment of all other things, on his vision for Apple and the change he wanted to create in the world. Success that destroys other parts of your life is not a life I aspire to live (I leave aside of this discussion the sacrifice of military, first responders and heroic acts). 

Unfortunately, Jobs was too sure of himself to consider that he could have had it all. If he was open to therapy or coaching I wonder what could have been; what more his genius could have created?

We all have our mark to make on the world. Before we think we need to sacrifice something we really care about, we need to consider if there is capacity and capability in us that we could discover and draw upon to not only fulfill our mission, but do so while strengthening our health and relationships. 

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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