Posts Tagged ‘steve jobs’

As the Paradigm Shifts #Y: Yin and Yang

by Rosie Kuhn on October 12, 2011

In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin and yang is used to describe how polar opposite and seemingly contrary forces, are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, are equal qualities and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other. Many natural dualities—e.g. dark and light, feminine and masculine, low and high, cold and hot— are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).  They interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects or beings, and may ebb or flow over time.

Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

Yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (i.e. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front). A way to illustrate this idea is to postulate the notion of a race with only men or only women; this race would disappear in a single generation. Yet, men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things. Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall.

The inception of each organization or institution arrived within a thought, which moments before was part of the vast void or sea of unconsciousness (Yin); a place of mystery, receptiveness, openness, allowing that are essential in every aspect of life. The birth of every thought, idea, project, invention and organization are the gifts from this undervalued domain.

Most Westerners believe that it is our thinking, our reaching for, our interconnecting of thoughts that procreates and manifests – it’s the doing that generates what is (Yang), not the being (Yin). When we focus on the act of creation we may ignore the aspect of being without which life, corporation, financial and religious institutions wouldn’t exist (The Yin Factor). The womb is where inception takes place. It is where creation occurs, gestates and forms until birth.

The decline of our world powers and many of the structures that support the notion of human domination have been built through Yang-ness: Think. Build, Do, Grow. The absence of the Yin factor, ignoring it’s vital contribution to life has created such an imbalance that the inevitable is occurring – The Fall; and we are surprised, overwhelmed and unprepared!

This isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the Universal laws of change. For an apple tree, from winters gift of rest, comes a life force in Spring that manifests as blossoms that over the seasons transmutes into fruit which fully ripens then falls to the ground, where, if not eaten will decompose and rot, nourishing the tree, while its own seeds will generate new life. There’s nothing bad about this cycle and we wouldn’t consciously want to change a thing about this; however the one-pointed focus on production and rewards has left us unconscious of the other essential half of the equation. We’ve ignored the necessary yin-ness of our being, pushing so hard that we’ve exhausted our resources, and just like the apple tree after creating its bounty, we too need winter to rest. We too need to focus our attention away from production and allow ourselves to be immersed in the experience of the fall, just like the apple at the moment of full impeccability, just like a fetus in the womb, just like the moment before a corporation goes public, something happens (Yinness – the great mystery), the fully formed organism has to detach from its source. The birthing process has completed itself and the fertile ground is ready to receive and engage with this new creation.  Inevitably growth and decline and death are intertwined for every single entity, thought and institution. Those focused on the Yangness of life distract and deny the essentialness of the decline and death.

Steve Jobs’ life and death are a beautiful reflection of the Yin Yang principle. The quote that I’ve included in this piece reflects that wisdom of including the intuition, the knowing that resides in the fecund void. “Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  His brilliance wasn’t born out of his intellect alone (Yangness), but was nurtured and nourished through his openness and receptivity to an illogical and irrational aspect of life (Yinness). His famous speech given at the 2005 commencement ceremonies at Stanford University encouraged listening to and embracing our own highest knowing, acting in our own highest good, for in doing so we are acting in the highest good of everyone and everything. Balancing our intellect with the heart and the soul – through which the Great Mystery reveals itself we will organically fulfill our life purpose and contribute in our own unique way to the unfolding of the Universe.

We want our lives, our projects, our creations and our business to come to their full fruition – and we expect that they continue to sustain that level of fruition, however we continually ignore that all things have a growth phase and a decline phase – Its true of Universes, Galaxies, Stars, planets, plants, animals humans and their creations. Engaging consciously with this reality will allow all of us to allow and except what cannot change and to cultivate the courage to engage with life in the way we can. We will rest in winter’s embrace, renewing ourselves while incubating unknown possibilities, which will contribute to the much needed balance of yin and yang principles required, as the paradigm shifts.

If you have an average product , but if you can create brilliant ads, will the products sell more.  Look at this superb Ad from Apple aired during the 1984 Superbowl introducing the first Macintosh computer.

Almost anyone who watches this will think that Apple would have had phenomenal sales for the McIntosh after this ad.. In fact, Steve Jobs thought so too, but what really happened was sales were dismal and the MCintosh was not at all usable in real life.  Yes, it was looking cool, but people couldn’t use it. (Hard to believe now that Steve would have thought like this). In fact, the dismal sales of Mcintosh was one of the major reasons Steve was fired from Apple in 1985.

Steve learnt one of the most important lesson in his life… that a product has to be first really useful to the customers before advertising helps.  Having average products and following up with great Ads  worked in the Industrial age but not anymore.  Now we need remarkable products or remarkable ideas, which can spread virally.

Flexible Focus #28: The Principle of Innovation

by William Reed on November 18, 2010

When it comes to innovation, for the vast majority hindsight is 20/20. “Why didn’t I think of that?” These are the famous last words of those who wonder why someone else always beats them to it with a new innovative product or solution. The reason is simple. Innovation is an intuitive process, and unless you tap into intuitive thinking, it is most likely to escape you.

Intuitive thinkers are comfortable in the world of ambiguity and possibilities, and tend to be quite good at connecting the dots which others never seem to notice. Intuitive thinkers are constantly discovering and creating new constellations, while non-intuitive thinkers stick with the familiar constellations. This changes of course, when a previously unknown constellation becomes known. After a new product, such as the iPad comes on the scene, it isn’t long before a host of imitators follow in hot pursuit.

You don’t have to look back too many years to see that at any period of history, even among experts what passed for common sense was completely overturned by new insights and innovations. Read a few quotes of the things people said when making Bad Predictions. Particularly in the area of telecommunications, computers, and transportation, where innovative technology has transformed our world, time and again expertise comes with an expiration date.

Innovation is about foresight, not hindsight. How then can we develop the ability to see clearly through the clouds, and use flexible focus to master the Principle of Innovation?

Desire to discover

The motive power of the innovative mind is curiosity, the desire to discover what is beyond the obvious. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher whose thesis was that change was a central principle of the universe, spoke as a true innovator in saying that, “Hidden connections are stronger than obvious ones.”

This applies even when there is no obvious tangible treasure to be gained. Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest innovative geniuses of all time, was so fascinated with cloud patterns, moving water, and even the patterns of stains on a wall, that he recorded them in sketches and wrote extensively about the patterns of nature in his notebooks.

Progress in learning a foreign language or musical instrument depends on intense curiosity to explore deeper, without which the process of practice would be tedious and tiresome. When a Japanese calligrapher was asked what motivated him to keep on practicing, seemingly surprised by the question, he responded that it was a continuous process of surprise and discovery. To a curious mind, practice is its own reward.

Inside, outside, and beyond the box

In Japan, the process of innovation actually begins with mastering an established pattern. This is true in all of the traditional arts and crafts, and each school starts by teaching the well-established master patterns. However, at some point students are expected to break from the pattern and explore variations on the master theme. Ultimately, the process of mastery involves freedom to improvise. Known as 守破離 (shū ha ri), the literal translation of the characters is defend-break-leave, as in defend the pattern, break free, leave behind.

This approach to innovation involves thinking inside, outside, and beyond the box. The Mandala Chart is practically designed for this purpose, which is excellent training for flexible focus.

Wealth Dynamics Square

Learning from the Wealth Dynamics Square

The Wealth Dynamics Square shown here was developed by Roger J. Hamilton, to graphically represent how the 8 personality profiles are positioned on the vertical axis of Intuition vs Timing, and the horizontal axis of Extrovert vs Introvert. These are terms originally developed by Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung, the founder of Analytical Psychology.

The Wealth Dynamics Square in effect is a Mandala divided into four triangles and eight profile points. As a navigational compass for entrepreneurs it is unsurpassed.

In this diagram the intuitive process of Innovation takes place in the green triangle at the top of the square. This is DYNAMO energy, represented in Chinese philosophy by the element of Wood, with growth in the Spring season. The three profiles across the top of the square are MECHANIC (山 mountain ), CREATOR (天 heaven ), and STAR (雷 lightning ), all of which represent mystery and high places, the dwelling place of innovation.

The Wealth Dynamics profile is not a point, but rather a shape crossing each of the four triangles in a radar graph. The profile of each person contains a percentage of each of the four energies, DYNAMO, BLAZE, TEMPO, and STEEL, and the person’s profile type is determined by the one that has the largest area in the graph. For more information on how to interpret the Wealth Dynamics Square, visit the Find Your Flow page on my website.

Learn from the Masters of Innovation

Though quite different in style, each of the profiles in the DYNAMO energy range has a special talent when it comes to the process of innovation.

CREATOR is the purest form of this energy, and famous Creators include Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo, is an excellent resource available for people in any profile to learn from one of the undisputed masters of innovation. Carmine Gallo has been interviewed extensively about this book, as well as the preceding volume, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

Innovators lead, imitators follow. Jobs himself described imitators as being like “Someone who’s not cool trying to be cool. Painful to watch.”

According to Gallo, the Seven Principles of Innovation are:

  1. Do what You Love
  2. Put a Dent in the Universe
  3. Kick-Start Your Brain
  4. Sell Dreams, Not Products
  5. Say No to 1,000 Things
  6. Create Insanely Great Experiences
  7. Master the Message

And he illustrates these not just with the achievements of Steve Jobs, but with other companies which have also mastered the process. Gallo gives us seven principles. Why not eight? Use your imagination to fill in the eighth principle as your own creative motto, whatever phrase triggers the creative process for you. You can download an INNOVATE LIKE STEVE JOBS Mandala to get started, but get the book to keep going.

Take a master for your mentor. Just remember to emulate, not imitate

On 9th August 2010, Ed Stafford arrived at the sea, having walked the length of the Amazon river.  Over 860 days of walking, 20,000 mosquito bites, 5,000 leeches, poisonous spiders and snakes.  No boss told him to do it.  Nobody paid him for it.  Why did he do it?  How did he keep going for almost 3 years?

Steve Jobs is worth billions.  He founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak.  Wozniak left 20 years ago worth millions.  Jobs is still there, still working, still pushing, still innovating new products.  Why?  What keeps him going?

Madonna was a star when I was 13.  She is still a star today.  She continues to tour, create new music, and maintain an exercise regime more intense than many professional athletes.  Why?

Ed, Steve and Madonna have ambition.  Each in a different way, each from their own source – but each have keep their own journeys going for long periods of time.

We began this series with a look at Imagination.  I called imagination the unique human skill.  However, an idea alone is worth nothing.  Execution is everything.  It is ambition that drives a person to keep going on the journey towards what they have imagined.

What is Ambition?

Where imagination guides the rudder, ambition powers the sails.  Knowing what to do but not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do. Dean Simonton, professor at USC-Davis says that: “Ambition is energy and determination. It calls for goals too.  People with goals but no energy are the ones who wind up sitting on the couch saying ‘One day I’m going to build a better mousetrap’. People with energy but no clear goals just dissipate themselves in one desultory project after the next.”

Ambition is the ability to transform purpose into disciplined action.  There are two components to this ability:

  • Visualization of the future – the mental effort to turn an idea into desire (imagination).  The clearer the image, the more powerful the feeling related to the image, the more powerful the energy.
  • Chunking – identifying the next simple step and taking it

A professional climber will look at a mountain and imagine what it will be like to achieve the summit.  He will begin climbing and shift focus to the single next hand movement, the next foot movement, the next breath…  the next meter…  but never more than the next meter during the journey.  Spain Ultraman? “just another 5 minutes… anybody can run another 5 minutes”.

Where does Ambition come from?

There is a genetic component – identical twins show a 30-50% overlap in their level of ambition.  There is an environmental component – FDR’s bout of polio gave him a sense of mission that led him to the presidency, Lance Armstrong survived cancer and won an unprecedented 9 tour de France victories.  Nando Parrado at age 19 was in a high altitude crash in the Andes, watched his friends and his sister and mother die – and when he walked out he took 100% ownership of his life.

Ambition is stronger in those that have a clear purpose in life

Nietzsche “Those with a clear why will overcome whatever how”.  To be good at what you do, you can depend on others…  but to be great, it must come from within.  You must find your source of ambition, the fire in the belly, the drive to give the last 1% that nobody else would notice if you didn’t give.  Only you can know.

Andre Agassi spoke about how he was number 1 in the world, playing great tennis…  and one day woke up and realized that he hated tennis.  It had lost meaning for him.  The goals of being number 1 were no longer important.  Over the next few months he dropped down to number 50 in the world and put on 10 kilos of weight.  After five months of drift he decided that he would open a school in his hometown.  He put effort into creating the foundation, fundraising and marketing the school.  He realized that his most powerful tool to further his aim of creating the school was playing tennis.  It was his most effective way of creating visibility and raising funds.  He returned to the top 10 and won 4 further US open titles.  He re-found a purpose that engaged him and gave him ambition.

One of the greatest books is Victor Frankl’s “Man’s search for meaning”, his autobiographical account of surviving the Nazi concentration camp system. 1 in 30 of those that entered the camp system survived.  Frankl saw that it was not random.  Those who survived had a purpose outside of themselves that kept them going, minute by minute, hour by hour as they overcame brutality upon brutality in the camp system.  Frankl identified the 3 sources of meaning and built a whole branch of psychiatry called logotherapy using tools to search for one of these 3 sources in each of our lives.

How to find your purpose?

What do you do that gives you energy?  What activities in your life seem to fly by?  You look forward to them when you know they are coming up.  You feel more energized afterwards.  I would ask that you do two things:

  1. Take a notebook and spend 5 minutes a day for 2 weeks and note down the specific activities  of that day that give you energy, and the specific activities that suck your energy.
  2. Say “no” more.

Identity – Marshall Goldsmith – what do you do because other people expect it of you, or you look to impress them.  What do you do that comes from within?

Mika de Waart says that we are driven by emotions.  “I should do more exercise”, “I should lose weight”, “I should get another job”…  are not driven by my own internal emotional drive – these are “shoulds”.  These are things that I want to do to impress others, to look good, to feel a significant member of my tribe.  Only when I convert a should into a must will it begin to be something that takes place in my life.  A must connects to my emotional inner life, into what is important for me.

How do I convert shoulds to musts?

Realize which are only ever going to be shoulds.  If you have 20 very important goals, you don’t have any.  If you have 1 or 2 then you have important goals.  If you don’t ever say “no” to people, then you are dividing yourself up into such small chunks that you will result in nothing real or lasting.  Let go of the shoulds that will never be more than shoulds.  Write them down on a piece of paper and set fire to the page.  Let them go.

“Carpe Diem. Memento mori.“  This was what was said to triumphant Roman Generals when they paraded through Rome on the day where they celebrated their greatest triumphs in battle.  Seize the day.  Remember you shall die.

Only in realizing the scarcity of our time and the reality that our time is limited will you have the strength to say no to the non essential.  Ambition is an expensive impulse, it requires an enormous investment of emotional capital.  In the words of Seth Godin: “only start what you mean to finish.”  Don’t burn yourself up on the unimportant.

Focus on process, not outcome.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Marathon runners say “I ran a marathon” they don’t much focus on times.  Everyone who has completed a marathon is a winner.

These tips for ambition are not just for the Ed Staffords, Steve Jobs and Madonnas of the world – they are most importantly for you.  You are here for a reason.  We need to you bring your talent to the world.

How can you develop your ambition?

  • Do less, get 3 important things complete each day
  • Say “no” more.  Stop using “busy-ness” as a badge of honour.
  • Meditate on how it will feel when you are old, when you look back on what you have done with your life
  • Don’t run from your fears.  Turn and face them.  Hidden in your fear is a message about your purpose. Demons are never as scary when you look them in the eyes.
  • As a parent, praise your kids for disciplined effort and not for results.  Same if you are a boss.  Same to your friends.

Commitment creates clarity. Do one next small step now.