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Amy Lamé

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Hug a Hoodie - They may be the Next Steve Jobs

Posted: 06/10/11 13:43

We've been lucky to have Steve Jobs around for much longer than, frankly, any sane doctor could have predicted. Pancreatic is a particularly vicious kind of Big C, and most diagnosed with it die within 6 months of discovery. But Steve Jobs, with his Buddhist belief, strict vegetarian diet, and - let's face it - a big bank balance to pay for the best healthcare available, managed to optimize his wellbeing for far longer than most. It's a sad outcome, but he has left an unrivalled legacy and will be remembered as one of the world's most successful business people of all time. Ummm...understatement!

The twitterverse has been alive with tributes, prayers and praise since news of Steve's death. A simple tweet from @jwmoss got me thinking. "Steve Jobs was born out of wedlock, put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world. What's your excuse?"

On paper, it looked like Steve was doomed from the start. Being born to a single mum was a big deal in the 60's when the word "bastard" wasn't used as just a mild swearword. He was adopted by a working class couple, and later painfully discovered his birth parents went on to marry and have more children.

It's been reported he had a stable upbringing, but he was a troubled child. As a young man Steve spent an extended time traveling around India, got spiritual, experimented with hallucinatory hard drugs, and went a bit loopy. He dropped out of college and was living a pretty directionless life. If he were a young person today, he'd be labeled a loser, a stoner, a weirdo, a no-hoper.

There are many things that intrigue me about Steve Jobs. You can read any one of thousands of obituaries online and in the papers for the details of his astonishing and impressive achievements, but I wonder whether any will actually address and explore his "un-success".

Some may say it's churlish and downright disrespectful to mention those words in the same breath whether he's alive or dead. But I believe his life - and death- can teach us valuable lessons about failure and success that can't be contained in a downloadable app.

Many of us may recognize a bit of ourselves in Steve's early "un-success"; unfortunately not all of us have gone on to be billionaire visionaries. OK, so maybe it's too late for those of us on the wrong side of 40.

But what are our expectations of the younger generation? Are we judging, or overly criticising anything that may be deemed "failure"? We all need space to fail; it's how we grow as human beings. We need to be more understanding of weakness and failure.

With the right guidance, a touch of empathy, a spark of creativity and drive, failure can turn into world-changing stuff. Let's face it, without that college flunking acid-dropping burnt-out hippie, where would we be? David Cameron once urged us to "Hug a Hoodie" Go on, I dare ya.

They just may be the next Steve Jobs.

 

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