He was truly ‘special’, to say it mildly… but actually he was a true choleric, hysteric and narcissistic person, narrow minded, unforgiving and pungent according to many, many others. He would not let loose, he could be rude, direct and insensitive, but most of all he was obsessive – everything he did, and equally all others did for him, had to be perfect, nothing less. It had to be insanely great.
All this does not sound like a person, who’s virtues you would praise in front of a class filled with pupils or students – but it’s exactly what I currently do!
This man, who’s been all over the news the last months and who’s autobiography I just have read, isn’t a leading example in the direct sense, but truly so in an indirect way: he is a leading example to all those who, like him, know what you can achieve with design. He lived what design is all about: he was designating his life, shaped his wold, continuously improved what he did and motivated others to follow his vision, all this with the intention to devise the course of action for the better (as he saw it).
The motivation that drove him, came from within: only superficially he seemed to react on impulses from the outside. In fact his judgements and actions were an impulse coming from within (which were intensified by his ‘special’ character) and a result of an ‘internal processing’. All he did, he did with an intense drive and ‘insane’ motivation, obviously both way stronger than his physique in the end could cope with…
I catch myself thinking, what would have happened, if I would have had such a drive and motivation, then – I would have freaked out for real, the time that I was designing products that weren’t good at all, that made no sense, which I would have never used myself, or recommended to my friends.
Why didn’t I freak out, for real? Why didn’t I run into the CEO’s office to throw the crap I had to design right on his table (as he would have done)? Why didn’t I stay insistent and persistent and stick to my believe that it would be right to develop just one design and bring that to market, instead of a whole armada – and that it would be better to invest our resources into one perfect product, instead of distributing it over many, many mediocre ones?
But ‘externally’ I did not freak out, only internally. Was I lacking the inner motivation and drive, or was it, because I’m not ‘special’ enough – or even because of both?
What fascinates me about the story of this person is not only what he achieved with his businesses and the quality of the products he created but is the determination behind his actions and the motivation that drove him. He didn’t need market analysis, he followed his intrinsic motivation. He designed products in a way that he would like to have and use them – and with that he fulfilled the needs of consumers way better than all those, which had themselves led by others and thus made products, which they themselves didn’t want or use…
Insane or genius (which apparently is separated by a thin margin), his story reveals that you should not settle to just achieve something – you have to master something! Whether you drive a bus, build a cupboard, are in front of a class or lead a multi-national company: you only master what you do, if you love to use the result of your work yourself, and if the motivation to do it, comes from within.
As my beloved granddad once said to me: “if a fruit-grower thinks his fruit isn’t worth eating, he’s not worth anything either.” Makes me think of a world, where all people are motivated and true masters in what they do – or is this too ‘special’?