You really don't have to be the next Steve Jobs
Startup media is always in search of the next Steve Jobs, the next Elon Musk, the next Richard Branson and so on. Why just media, we ourselves aspire to be the next whoever. What if we let go of this desire and simply allow ourselves to become whoever we actually are?
When Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s CEO, someone in my family sent a message to our group email reminding everyone that he went to the same school and college as I did. I knew where this line of thinking was going. Our minds crave to be associated with other people’s success. These associations keep changing based on context – location, ethnicity, industries, background and so on. If Sachin Tendulkar is from Mumbai, we associate ourselves with Mumbai more. We take pride in the fact that Indians discovered zero even while knowing that we have nothing to do with the person who actually figured out nothingness.
What’s more, I’ve seen successful entrepreneurs emulate absurd things like wearing Steve Job-esque black turtle neck t-shirts. It almost seems to say, “Please, please look at me, I can also be like Steve Jobs.”
Our rational selves already know that the coolness is not in the t-shirt, it’s the other way round. The commonality with other successful people through academic background, ethnicity, or clothes (gasp) has almost nothing to do with our own success. But, yet entrepreneurs seem to be on the trip of discovering everyone, but themselves.
The me-next syndrome doesn’t end with people. Entire startups and their investors try to emulate other companies – from real estate to food startups to app-commerce. Our search for notional success is so desperate that we are willing to copy anything. What if we truly thought differently?
People who rise above the horizon help us discover the extent of our own potential as humanity. But, that’s where their story needs to end and ours must begin. What we do next after getting inspired is what actually matters.
Even if we were to follow someone else’s roadmap and achieve exactly what they did, those efforts won’t close the loop within ourselves and give us that satisfaction we seek. The reason is simply because inside of us, we are quite different from everyone else out there. The point is to allow this deeper self to express itself outside.
Discovering what we are meant to do is less to do with doing, but more to do with undoing. When we stop doing things that are incongruous to our core values, we slowly start finding ourselves. When we observe our actions at times when no one is watching, we get glimpses into what kindles our inner selves. Activities where we spend time with no expectation of getting paid, show us what we love doing and could go on doing despite challenges.