Monday, November 23, 2009

"Genius Is Only A Superior Power Of Seeing"

-John Ruskin

In a Fortune interview Steve Jobs comments on catching tech's next wave:

"Things happen fairly slowly, you know. They do. These waves of technology, you can see them way before they happen, and you just have to choose wisely which ones you're going to surf."

Lots of people might think that Steve Jobs can see different things than other people in the tech industry and has some sort of sense of what is going to happen that's unattainable to others. Journalists would likely have you believe this, but I believe that these trends are pretty easy to see (I have drawings from 2005 of a full-screen iPod with internet, email and a stocks widget) and that the really important part is that you are in a position to be able to see them. In last week's post I wrote about big ideas that don't fit anywhere on the current idea spectrum. These big ideas aren't especially complex- it's no secret that deferring what you really want to do until retirement might not be the best way to achieve those goals- but you need just the right amount of focus to be able to actually see these ideas. If you are too buried in the nitty gritty of what is going on day-to-day then you won't be able to see anything past what's on the spectrum already and if you're too detached from what's going on (which isn't usually the problem) then you won't be able to see these ideas either. There's an optimal height to be able to see things from and there's no magic formula for where that is, but I do know that it is definitely important to step back and be able to see things from a broader perspective. It sounds easy, but it is remarkably hard to achieve a mindset where you are truly detached from what's going on day-to-day and able to see the big picture for what it is. Trying your best to attain that mindset is crucial in order to know where you want to go, in life and in business.

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