Los lobosFull disclosure, I finally finished Steve Jobs, the biography by Walter Isaacson—a year after receiving it as a holiday gift.Though it rekindled the feeling of loss of a strikingly innovative leader in Silicon Valley, it also motivated thoughts of why we should build great things, now.

Architect, Contract, Put Out Fires

What made a Steve Jobs both a demanding perfectionist and a tyrant was his razor-focus on the big picture as well every minutia of the projects he took under his helm. It was his roles as chief architect, lead contractor, and on-call firefighter that allowed him to shape visions, execute, and assuage the imperfect.

All too often in our jobs or job searches or our creative or entrepreneurial endeavors we take a backseat to architecting our goals with relentless zeal. We ‘go with the flow’ instead of believing we can create a new stream. In cubicleland, we may struggle to be innovative because our ideas are not validated by our superiors. In our startup endeavors we may feel like our success depends on whether our timing in an industry is right. And in our creative exploits, we may feel that a lack of focus or ‘creative blocks’ will eventually lift.


These thoughts rob us of self-empowerment. Becoming better acquainted with Steve Jobs from Isaacson’s expertly woven account revealed a quality of Jobs worth replication. He had a relentless desire to build great things. Though he did not, as he and those around him proclaimed, do everything with greatness—the things he chose to focus his attention on were the objects of his obsession from start to finish.

We can learn from this in our lives by choosing to create something, and building it to greatness. The relentlessness piece comes in when deciding how to pursue building this new creation. The pursuit of it should be without yielding, and with a sense of urgency.

We may not truly possess Jobs’ “reality distortion” phenomena, but we can emulate his unyielding pursuit of his ideas as we turn the focus to our own projects.

So, the challenge is not to just resolve to find a new job, start a company, or write a book or new music…the challenge is to architect that experience and will it into success.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed and overridden with goals, you can choose to take one goal and dream out the biggest vision for it, and then start sketching out the details and subdetails that will make it reality.

With Urgency

And though we may not feel a particular sense of urgency right now, the story of Steve Jobs as well as so many of the major news stories of 2012 have show us, we should prioritize getting our best work out. Now is truly the only moment we have any control over.

Wishing you, your friends & families, and your greatest endeavors—the best for 2013!

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