I have been listening again to the audiobook biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Jobs could be a self-opinionated, arrogant brat or a sensitive soul in the course of a conversation but with all his personality faults, he was undoubtedly a genius.
His ability to have people do things that, on the face of it, were impossible using his “Reality Distortion Field” was nothing short of astounding.
For example, the launch of the original Mac had been scheduled and two weeks prior the technical people told Jobs that they would need at least two more weeks to make sure the software bugs had been eliminated so the launch would need to be postponed.
Jobs told them that two weeks was enough to get it right and the launch would go ahead as planned.
They did get it right working twenty-four hours a day and the launch went ahead.
Coincidentally I saw on TV this week a reprise of the 2015 Great British Bake-Off culminating in a win for the wonderful Nadia.
She was interviewed very soon after being told that she had won and among all the emotions swirling round her she said with great emphasis that she would never say that she couldn’t do something ever again.
We are surrounded in the media by gloom mongers and naysayers all of whom greet any idea however simple or revolutionary with a shake of the head and a barrage of tut-tutting. They seem to look for any reason not to do things rather than embrace change. The BBC calls this balance.
The fact is that if we don’t know that something is impossible then we can go ahead and do it.
The great leaders are able to persuade their people that nothing is impossible. It’s called the Can-Do attitude and it works.
The example of Steve Jobs, preferably without the personality flaws, is one that should be followed by anyone looking to bring innovation into a business.
However we have to accept that because the very though of innovation implies a modicum of change there can be a natural reaction against it.
If a business doesn’t embrace change as a matter of culture then it will slowly wither. The time to embrace change is always now. It has been wisely said that the only constant in any business should be change.
The Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field approach is not one that can easily be replicated. It demands a blank refusal to accept the obvious with a determination to rewrite reality and that isn’t always easy or even practical.
Then again few of us are like Steve Jobs so we need to develop techniques that drive both innovation and the can-do attitude into the culture of the business in a way that is acceptable and motivational.
The power of positive thought is just as effective as that of negative thinking. Great leaders drive a positive culture into the business and that needs to become a habit.
If we constantly say that something is impossible or we can’t do it, then nothing will be achieved. Conversely the more we say that we CAN do something then we are more likely to achieve.
Henry Ford said, “If you say you can or you say you can’t, you are always right”.
Now that is a very wise thought.
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