Merriam-Webster defines legacy as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” The passing of Apple co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs raises the inevitable question “What is Steve Jobs’ legacy?” Could it be the numerous products introduced over the years that enhanced productivity and provided entertainment value? The list includes McIntosh, iMac, iBook, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. The ways that we work, play, and communicate have been significantly impacted by the genius of Steve Jobs.
I prefer to view Jobs’ legacy differently. It can be distilled to one word: innovation. Steve Jobs dared to be different, not for the sake of being different but to stretch the limits of what could be accomplished. He once said that it did no good to ask customers what they want because they don’t know what they want. And, they don’t know what they want because they do not realize what is possible- the products that could be developed to add value to their lives. Steve Jobs was a visionary in this area- he had a feel for what was possible, more so than the rest of us.
If we want to honor Steve Jobs’ legacy of innovation, it is not by buying Apple products or stock. Instead, we must keep alive his passion for stretching the limits of the possible. Personally, I have been more focused on innovation in my professional work over the past 5 years than at any point in my career. I attribute this focus to the influence of forward thinkers like Steve Jobs. It is imperative that we encourage innovation in business, education, government, and in our communities. Too often, we are mired in the status quo and fearful of doing something different because it has not been tried before. We need to get past our self-imposed limitations and keep the passion for innovation alive.