How Steve Jobs’ biggest failure can teach us what it means to succeed

In 1985, less than 10 years after he founded Apple, Steve Jobs was (essentially) fired.

He was out.

At age 30, his life was flipped upside-down and he needed to move on from the only business he’d ever known. Jobs was forced to resign when CEO, Jon Sculley, felt Apple needed to reorganize and shift gears. He didn’t see Jobs in the tech company’s future plans.

So, he was gone. Famously gone.

It would take nearly 12 years before Jobs came back to the company that he started. Shortly after returning in 1997, Jobs took Apple into the stratosphere and completely revolutionized personal computers, handheld technology and the way we consume information. We know Jobs today as one of the titans of tech, a giant of Silicon Valley and a legend of the business.

Yet the greatest lesson we can glean from the life of Steve Jobs is the very same one that he learned during his nearly 12-year hiatus from Apple.

The man we view as one of the most successful CEO’s and leaders in business history profited most from an incredible, embarrassing failure.

This failure profoundly impacted the way he thought, and how he would innovate and use technology as his tool to change the way billions of people live.

The reinvention of a titan

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.” — Steve Jobs

During his time away from Apple, Jobs founded NeXT, a company that developed computer workstations, and later funded Pixar and helped the animation studio grow exponentially. He later became chairman and was an executive producer on the enormous hit-movie, Toy Story.

Instead of sulking and letting that failure doom him, Jobs created an opportunity for reinvention and used his talents to grow two other organizations. Jobs really loved what he did and possessed the vision to create and innovate. He refused to accept second-best. He refused to wallow in failure. He never settled.

He worked each day with a subject matter that he cared about, which made it that much easier to talk about, market and sell. Jobs was a marketing genius and he was able to do so with such brilliance because he loved what he did. He came back better than ever because he knew that what he wanted to create for the world was a superior product that people would love.

Keep searching

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

For all the innovation, genius and marketing expertise he brought to Apple, it was born from precious life lessons forged from challenges and adversity.

Jobs ultimately became a very wealthy and successful man because he was forced to do some introspection and determine how he could get better. He never stopped innovating — this time, he took the lesson to grow both professionally and personally.

He mended some of the personal relationships in his life, both with his previous partner and children. He later remarried during his time away from Apple and continued his evolution into becoming a more well-rounded man.

He kept searching, kept looking and made personal growth a lifelong quest. Jobs could have let getting fired from Apple define him for the rest of his life in a bad way. He instead took that moment and converted it into an exemplary model of growth. This is Jobs’ greatest lesson. And one we can all heed in our own lives.

As Jobs famously said in his Stanford University Commencement address in 2005,

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.”

Concluding thoughts

You have more time thank you think. One of life’s greatest lessons is to always maintain a positive outlook.

If you’re willing to learn from your failures, you will undoubtedly see a brighter day. Never, ever take any experience for granted. Learn from it. Be truly grateful for the opportunities you have. The tough times make us mentally and emotionally tougher.

This is what leads to a growth mindset and sets the pace for the goals we aim to achieve throughout our lives.

This article first appeared on Medium.

Join my newsletter for emotional intelligence and productivity content! Get a FREE Coaching Call to Explore Your Emotional Intelligence, and Learn how to Achieve Your Biggest Goals! Check out my Amazon bestseller, The Value of You, which has helped tens of thousands of people develop the game plan for living their best life!