The Ethics of Good Bye: Steve Jobs’ Legacy

The text of Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address to Stanford graduates is about a commitment to a life well lived. At its core, it is about knowing yourself, having the courage to hold on in the journey of discovering what you love to do, and then doing nothing less than what you believe is your best work.

His address is about gratitude, appreciation, passion, curiosity, integrity, honoring intuition, creativity, humility, confidence, failure, and how to begin again.

It is about what it means to stay hungry and stay foolish.

It is also about death, the one thing he points out that none of us escape.  And today, October 5, 2011, death claimed him.

The reality is that in spite of his brilliance, Steve Jobs didn’t always succeed. And he admits it, seeing failure for what it is, a chance to learn and begin again looking at things freshly.

Much will be written about his leadership.

However, in an age when the newest fad is to try to proclaim one’s “authenticity,” Steve Jobs’ legacy is that he didn’t make it about him; his leadership was about leading his team to a shared purpose. It was about creating trust and leading authentically.

And along the way, he changed the world.

Gael O’Brien, October 5, 2011

The Week in Ethics

Gael O’Brien is also a columnist for Business Ethics MagazineHer latest column is about the challenge of authentic leadership.


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