There is one thing we can say with certainty about the legendary Apple CEO and his legacy. Ever since Steve Jobs died, he has been studied repeatedly. From his personal life to his business acumen, scholars have been busy dissecting his practices to find his magic formula for success. But while many corporate how-to guides have been based on his advice, there is little material accessible to children. So we’re going to address that problem in this post by looking at lessons from Steve Jobs we can teach kids. And we’re going to suggest ways we can make these pointers accessible to children.
Passion, passion, passion — love what you do, and don’t settle until you find it
In his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford graduates, Jobs emphasized the importance of finding the thing you love. One of the key lessons from Steve Jobs we can teach kids resulted from him dropping out of college. It was a decision that scared him — and would certainly frighten any parent — but it eventually led to innovation.
“The minute I dropped out, I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.” That’s a Steve Jobs quote that pretty much summarized the next part of his life. Soon after he stopped taking courses that bored him, he started studying more unconventional things, such as calligraphy. On the surface, it seems like a questionable decision. What use is calligraphy in the job market? Why learn the difference between serif and sans serif? It’s a fair inquiry any concerned guardian would ask their son or daughter. But Jobs says he wasn’t concerned about material gain and simply followed his interests and intuition. Years later, it would help Steve Jobs’ net worth exceed that of a broke college student! Which brings us to one of the next lessons from Steve Jobs we can teach kids.
Talents and skills are interconnected
Did the calligraphy pay off? According to Jobs, it did. Years later, he had a hand in designing how print would appear on Apple’s computer monitors. It was then that he borrowed much of the knowledge he learned in those calligraphy classes. He used this know-how to create the beautiful typefaces we’re all familiar with today. It’s a simple lesson that can profoundly change the way we see supposedly ‘unrelated’ or ‘useless’ skills.
Talents are often interconnected and can feed and drive other skills in ways we often can’t predict. Who would’ve thought calligraphy would’ve made Jobs a better computer visionary? This seems to be an insight shared by other highly successful people. For example, take a look at this interview with Jad Abumrad, the driving force behind Radiolab, which has an average of 1.8 million listeners per show. Abumrad describes how being trained as a music composer helped him design what many have hailed as the new sound of public radio.
Pour love into everything you do, because you never know when it’ll come back to help you
The bottom line? Encourage your children to cultivate love and passion for all the things they do, because it transfers into everything. Many jobs and skills are interconnected. Teach kids to be interested and passionate about everything they do, because seemingly ‘useless’ interests may be useful down the road. Now, we’re not encouraging children to drop out of school, but it may be useful to show them similarities between ‘fun things’ and ‘work.’
For example, if your kids love soccer, show them how the game is related to math and physics. The study of parabolas, angles and problem solving are all things these seemingly unrelated subjects have in common. Or another example — if your kids like cooking, explain how following instructions in school can be like following directions in a recipe.
Regardless of what it is your children do, teach them to be passionate about it. Our blog has covered how keeping kids interested in work is important to success.
Steve Jobs’ last words expressed a deep amount of wonder and appreciation for the world. We’d do good to have that kind of attitude for life. And if your children are interested in learning more about him, you might be interested in checking out the Steve Jobs movie released in 2013, as well as another one coming later this year. Keep in mind there may be some mature content, of course.