“One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are.”
I’ve been reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs lately, a riveting roller-coaster of a story that takes you through the glory days of the Apple II, the nadir of Jobs’ departure from Apple and his misadventures at NeXT, and the incredible developments at Pixar and later Apple upon his triumphant return. His was a remarkable life, and the latter half of his career could well be seen as kicking off the 21st century between the introduction of products that ultimately defined categories such as portable music (iPod), portable computing (iPad) and the advancing power and sophistication of cell phones (iPhone).One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are. - Steve Jobs Click To Tweet
The quote above comes from the time when Apple launched its Think Different advertising campaign, which featured photos of various iconic people (Einstein, Gandhi, Picasso, etc.) alongside the Apple logo and the “Think Different” tag line. Jobs wanted to rejuvenate a company culture that had been lost over the years every bit as much as he wanted a novel advertising pitch. Those billboards weren’t just intended to motivate people like you and me to buy an iPod or iMac, but to remind Apple employees that they should always strive to create unique products that changed the world.
It’s an evocative quote, and got me thinking – the last several years have seen a lot of change in my life, and it’s worth grounding yourself sometimes. So here’s a list of a few of my heroes (personal, historical & fictional), with a short note as to why.
- My Dad (tireless worker with a practical, optimistic outlook)
- Albert Einstein (the ultimate theoretical visionary)
- George Washington (I read 1776 last year, and highly recommend it)
- Isiah Thomas (as a player, an incredibly daring & relentless competitor)
- Malala (took a bullet to the head from the Taliban for daring to attend school, now advocates publicly in defiance of them)
- Gandalf (led by counseling & motivation, rather than simply accomplishing a task himself – believe me, I could do dozens of Tolkien characters!)
If there’s a common theme there, I would think it’s persistence – each of these icons faced various challenges or setbacks but dealt with them in a productive fashion, focusing on the road ahead and what impact they could have, rather than ruminating over the past. I hope (but don’t always succeed) to show that same kind of persistence myself when difficulty arises.
So who are your heroes, and how do they define you?