Steve Jobs and Apple have revolutionized the computer industry with their impressive products. They have done this by producing products that follow a set of core philosophies that Apple lives by. However, it was only recently when I realized that these philosophies could not only be applied in the business world, but to every day life as well.
Apple’s core philosophies stand for something. They also relate well to the business world and the human world, which is why Apple loyalists feel such a strong connection with the company. Furthermore, these philosophies are rarely, if ever, challenged within the company. If it means sacrificing revenues, disrupting the norm, and pissing a few people off, then so be it.
This is why Apple is so intriguing to us. Apple defies what is normally expected of businesses. They looked at the technology industry, they saw which direction everyone was going, and they ran the opposite direction, without looking back. And it takes but a single look at Apple’s stock price to tell all that it is the right decision.
Only after I listed these philosophies in my mind did I realize that they are exemplary of human values and behaviors. They are what every human being should strive to live by in every facet in life. And I’m willing to bet that if everyone kept them in mind throughout their day, the world would be such a better place. It’s nothing more than a utopian fantasy, sure, but I believe that anyone could learn from them.
So enough with the teasing. Let’s get right into Apple’s philosophies and how we can gain knowledge from them.
“Think Different.” It’s been Apple’s slogan since 1997. Thinking different is what makes Apple, well, Apple, right? It’s apparent in how Apple acts and presents itself as a company and a brand. Instead of appealing to the masses, the company has taken actions to attract those who “think different” about what a computer can, should, and will be; the same holds true for mobile devices. It’s events are different, it’s products are different, and its leadership is different. Being different gets you noticed.
Being different also has a lot to do with taking risks. People who strive to be different are those who are willing to stick their neck out and risk having it cut off (not literally, I hope). It’s not for the faint of heart, either. But without this mentality of being and thinking differently, our world would be an incredibly dull place to exist in.
To achieve success and to live a good life, one must consider the idea that taking a different path, one that is veers off course and into unknown territory. Because in the business world and in every day life, being different is, at times, a huge risk, but you might just might find yourself in paradise city when you reach the end of it.
Apple also has to have some self constraint. It comes in the form of being able to say “no” when necessary. If Apple so desired, every possible feature, extra, gizmo, and doohickey could be tossed into their products. But why do such a thing? This doesn’t happen, of course, and it’s because Apple has great vision and focus. The company creates products that solve a problem, and they do what needs to be done to solve that problem and nothing more.
This is part of the reason why Apple creates so few products. There aren’t hundreds of current generation iPod, iPad, iPhone, and Mac products in the market. There are only a few variations; most of these variations are essentially the same product with improvements to data storage or connectivity. But all of these products receive high praise. It’s because these products solve a problem, and they do what needs to be done to solve that problem and nothing more.
I only discovered my true talent and passion for writing a few years ago after leaving high school. I was in college studying Computer Science, but I had decided to stop and pursue my love of writing. If I hadn’t have realized that I could say “no” to all of these things, I might not be where I am right now. I very well might be miserable.
This is why people need to realize that the ability to say “no” and to focus on the solution to a problem (e.g., doing what makes you happy) is incredibly valuable. Keep focused and eliminate everything else.
But if there is one thing that Apple’s product demonstrate well, it is that simplicity is key. This is another core philosophy at Apple. Utilizing the company’s focus to solve a single problem, as compared to other companies’ tendencies to solve everything at once, the creation of products to solve simple everyday problems is a significant part of Apple’s success. The iPad doesn’t aim to be everything to everybody; it aims to be the solution for those who want to have a device with them that they can turn on, use, and turn off, without all the hassles that traditional computers bring. These examples can be found throughout the company’s product lineups.
Most people are not taking the steps to simplify their lives. I’m not only talking about having clutter — although, many people have plenty of that — I’m also talking about taking on too much in their lives. Leo Babauta, writer for ZenHabits.net, has regularly highlighted how people can adopt a simpler life style — giving up television for books, all-in-one devices for simplified ones, multi-tasking for single-tasking, and so on.
It has helped yours truly to live a better life, and I’m sure that, even with Apple’s example, you can learn to simplify your life to make it more efficient and more fulfilling.
However, simple things alone are not enough. Sometimes you have to take control to produce the best possible quality product that can be. This is, of course, classic Apple. While the company has been criticized for its somewhat “draconian” behavior in the past, the overall product that Apple produces is regularly superior to the competition. Controlling the product from concept to distribution is great for Apple. This is also rare in the computing industry, where companies tend to lean towards software or hardware side of things, not both. The more outside forces at play, the more potential for things to go horribly wrong. Clearly Apple believes this with their announcement of the App Store on Mac OS X Lion.
(This isn’t to say that the other ways of creating computer technology is inferior. However, one must admit that it could be incredibly advantageous for a single company to control both the hardware and software experiences of a single product. Apple just so happens to be one of the best at making it work for them.)
Apple’s philosophy with control is important. It can relate to the everyday person. It’s important to be in control of your future. To establish a line that will not be crossed. To put your life in your own hands, and to do the best with it. Allowing others to have so much control over your life is unwise; independence and the freedom to do what you want are key to being successful and happy in life.
Making A Difference
Finally, the one key thing that always sticks out with Apple is that their products make a difference. In fact, their products have made a huge difference. Apple has single handedly revolutionized the music industry, the movie industry, the television industry, the mobile industry, and the computing industry. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? And although I am not sure what will be next, I am confident that Apple will do it again with some other industry.
This is something that people should focus on as well. With everything that you could be doing at this very moment, are you making a difference? Are you improving someone’s life, even if it is your own? Are you doing meaningful work? Are you doing what makes you happy? If you can’t answer those with a definitive “yes,” then it might be time to re-evaluate what you are doing with your life.
Putting yourself in a position to make a difference in people’s lives is one of the most important things that I believe someone can do. Apple has done it. Why not you?