“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire
“Did you feel like stomping the roses, smashing out all the feeling inside them? It’s bad business the way you’re stomping the roses.” – David Archuleta
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, rebels, troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes – you can disagree with them, glorify them or vilify them but you can’t ignore them because they change things.” – Steve Jobs
While he was alive I never paid much attention to Steve Jobs. His electronic creations were the only things that registered in my mind. Sleek, functional and ubiquitously emblazoned with that iconic Apple logo his ‘toys’ were marvels of engineering and form. Sold in the millions they were a testament to the unceasing search of one man for the ‘perfect’ consumer plaything.
With his passing the usual eulogies have flowed from which I have discovered to my amazement the convoluted circumstances of his life. Born to a Syrian father and an American mother he was given up for adoption at a very tender age. At best his family is a tangle of estrangement, rapprochement and recriminations – not exactly nurturing for most people but in the case of Apple’s inspirational leader it doesn’t seem to have stopped him in any way.
His single minded focus on getting it right and fussing over the smallest details resulted in an arsenal of consumer products that changed the way we communicate, connect, enjoy music and entertainment. The early circumstances of his birth were no impediment to Jobs’ ambition to build and create. His adult life was no picture perfect story book either. Dropping out of college, dabbling in drugs and spirituality, his counterculture tendencies were a far cry from his subsequent rise to the ranks of the iconic and influential.
My question is: Would Jobs have been as successful as he was in any place other than America? Without the national mantra of “The American Dream” imbued in it’s subjects would a person like Jobs find the necessarily benevolent and accepting canvass on which to apply his fantastic creations if he were born say a Malaysian?
Each of the quotes above highlights the embrace of individual freedom and unfettered creative energy. No matter how bizarre one may be, how much one’s ideas fly in the face of logic and convention and how square a peg you are to the uncompromisingly round holes that surrounds you, you are encouraged to express your uniqueness. This is the concept that has fostered the emergence of the Jobs’, Gates’, Bransons’ and closer to home the Fernandes’ who wouldn’t take no for an answer. They stubbornly forged ahead inspite of all the naysayers. Armed only with an all consuming self belief in the efficacy of their ideas they have created and set trends that have impacted countless lives. Guts and tenacity were their calling cards and we have all seen how these ‘mavericks’ have changed the world.
Would a David Archuleta have enough of the rebel within him to clear the same path as the aforementioned flag bearers? Would his inner voice be insistent enough to compel him to act accordingly regardless of the resistance or advise to do otherwise?
Likewise will Malaysia ever develop the same environment of unbridled optimism, pioneering spirit and perseverance in a prevailing climate of censure and negativity? In a nation where square pegs are relentlessly being rammed into round holes will we ever produce our own Steve Jobs?