“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” -Steve Jobs
First of all, did you get as much of a kick out of seeing Steve with dark hair in the above video as I did?
This Steve Jobs quote on innovation, as is many things that he has said and done, has the potential to change the very way that you approach your outlook on your job, schooling, or even life in general.
Let’s go even further with this thought.
Not only are you just as smart as these other folks and can build your own things. This equal (or greater) intelligence also means that you can improve upon what others have already invented and created.
Picasso had a quote that I’ve written down in many places that “Good artists copy, but great artists steal.” Steve Jobs obviously agreed with Picasso. Think about that for a second. Anyone can copy what someone else did. That may give you some success. Look at all of the smartphones out there. The dozens of Android phones essentially are copying each other (and the original one essentially copied the iPhone). Same scenario with PC’s since the early years. Add more memory, bigger hard drives, faster processors, and make more money.
How do you disrupt the system? Don’t just copy what others are doing. Take what they’re doing, and make it better.
The Obligatory Apple Example
Steve Jobs and Apple are obviously a great example of this. They they took the phone, a technology which has existed for quite some time and evolved into the cell phone, which evolved into the first iterations of the smart phone. But nothing had ever turned heads like the iPhone. Apple took a product they’d never touched before, and approached it from a different angle. Boom.
Same story with the iPod. Music consumption had evolved over time from records to cassettes to CDs and even to mp3 players. Yet, the way that they approached mp3 players in a new, innovative, and different angle revolutionized the market. Same story with iTunes. Potentially the same story with their rumored entry into the TV market.
A Less Common Example
When you look at institutions, ideas, and products that have existed for many many years, don’t be frozen by the idea that it has reached its full potential as it is. When you look at physical items–buildings, modes of transportation, etc.–they are constantly changing and being improved. Why? Because people realize that it can always be done better. This concept is often overlooked when it comes to much larger issues like government, education, or even the way in which we sell our products. Sure, there are barriers in place that create friction that makes it pretty difficult to create any significant change in some of these areas, but that means there’s all the more reason for it to be approached in a radical and innovative manner.
So, I challenge you to begin trying to cultivate the mindset that existing products and ideas are, by default, lacking. Inefficiencies create opportunities, which means you need to step up to the plate and create something new. Don’t settle for copying ideas. Steal them. Improve upon them. We, and you, will be better off because of it.
Hat tip to Gizmodo for posting this video.