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Stop Judging and Start Learning

We can't all have the scope and influence of Steve Jobs. But we do all face many of the same issues, and his openness gives us the chance to learn from him.
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Last weekend was the release of the new movie Jobs, about Steve Jobs.

The ratings at Rotten Tomatoes were less than kind, and many reviews could not resist comparing the movie to the figure at its center. In the New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote, "It would drive Steve Jobs nuts to know that the new movie about his life has all the sex appeal of a PowerPoint presentation."

Other critics described the film as lacking the attention to detail and streamlined focus that Jobs famously brought to his projects.

Obviously, it is the job of a critic to be critical. And we can argue whether the movie was good or bad. But if we want to learn from the example of Steve Jobs, we need to stop judging and be more open to learning.

Steve jobs changed the way we look at products, living, and business. Most of us can only dream of having that kind of impact.

And certainly, he was capable of being critical. But it was not criticism, but his passion for excellence that challenged those who worked for him to do better, and for those of us who brought his products to be better -- so much so that all of us who own Apple products (myself included) felt we were part of his vision.

Even after his death, we can learn from Steve Jobs. He had a lot to teach about passion and excellence, design and vision.

On excellence: "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."

On mastery: "We don't get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life."

On being yourself: "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

On self-definition: "I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do."

On being selective: "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."

Unsurprisingly, it was facing his own death that brought Jobs his highest level of self-awareness, something that he was willing to candidly share.

Almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important," he said. "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Steve Jobs reminds us that life is short and we should always be asking what kind of life we want to make for ourselves, what is important to us, what we will we make a stand for. None of us can know how long we have, but what we do have is this moment, so stay present and make it memorable.

He also shows us how our perspective can change when we look back. He describes his leave from Apple, a period that was devastating to him at the time, as one of the most creative periods of his life, by saying "it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me." Our biggest struggles, our most profound pain, can become our most precious gifts.

We can't all have the scope and influence of Steve Jobs. But we do all face many of the same issues, and his openness gives us the chance to learn from him. And, like the movie Jobs, we all face criticism. Maybe there will be people out there who don't like what you stand for or how you got where you are. Maybe they don't like what do and why you do it.

But your life -- each life -- has an opportunity to make a dent in the universe. Maybe in business, maybe in design, maybe in our leadership.

What do you have to teach us? What can I learn from you?

© 2013 Lolly Daskal. All rights reserved.

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