Focused intensity over time = Steve Jobs

I think we can all agree in Steve Jobs we lost a great innovator and business leader on Wednesday. That night as I watched the news coverage of his death, I was struck by 2 things.

  1. Jobs was the definition of what Dave Ramsey describes as his Momentum Theorem.
  2. What could we create if we had death hanging over our heads for 8+ years.

Momentum Theorem revisited

Yesterday, I began reviewing Dave Ramsey’s book by exploring the concept of Momentum Theorem. EntreLeadership defines the Momentum Theorem as:

Focused Intensity over Time multiplied by God equals Momentum.

It looks like this:

Dave Ramsey's Momentum Theorem equation

From everything I’ve read about Steve Jobs, that definition is him in a nutshell. He was able to intensely focus over problems and products for immense amounts of time. The result is the momentum we see in the Apple brand today.

Apple is the most valued country in the world (literally). That from a business that nearly went under as Jobs was re-taking the lead. Apple stock grew from $10/share to $400/share under Jobs leadership.

Apple created the iMac, iPod, iPhone & iPad all under Jobs leadership. This before he came up with fonts, a graphic interface and the mouse his first go around at Apple.

Yet all of this creation didn’t just happen. It came after hours, days, weeks and months of intense labor. Momentum was built after the Apple team worked intensely for a great amount of time.

So how and why was he able to do so much? I think the partial answer comes from…

Death, the great motivator.

Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford several years ago is almost as iconic as any computer project he created. In part, because Jobs didn’t speak much outside of his famous Apple product unveilings.

The address made it’s rounds again after his death on the internet and even network television. I watched a part of the commencement address on CNN Wednesday night.

The Stanford speech is where Jobs publicly addressed his cancer affliction. He did this within the context of daily being driven by death.

He said the death awaits us all. This is no news. We’ve all heard it before.

However, he went on to say something quite profound:

Every morning I stand and look into the mirror and ask myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”  And whenever the answer has been “No” too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Last night as I watched this speech again on CNN, I asked myself if Steve Jobs and Apple would have innovated the way they did the past 10 years had Steve Jobs not had cancer?

I suppose there is no real way to know, but in hindsight people who knew Jobs spoke as if he were on a mission the last few years. A mission to literally change the world through the devices Apple created.

Without literally facing my impending death each day, I don’t know how to be motivated like Jobs was. I don’t know how to leverage death as a force to push me to greater heights. However, I do know that I have faced myself in the mirror too many days saying, “This isn’t what I want to do with my life.” I do know that changing what I’m doing makes it easier for me to face the possibility of dying tomorrow.

It’s been said by nearly every person with a Twitter account and an iPhone in the past few days, but it’s worth saying again. Rest in peace Steve Jobs. The world is a better place because of you.

Here are some more thoughts and mentions of Steve Jobs from The Collective.

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