In the end, it was a matter of faith. One that was sadly misguided. Revelations in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs is full of more irony than even Shakespeare could have penned. Jobs, the perfectionist, opts out of medical best-practices to deal with what appeared to be a treatable cancer. Instead, as critical months pass, he relies on diet and visits a psychic. Jobs, the street-smart business practitioner and fierce boardroom player, chooses “magical thinking” over the medical data. Never a man of faith, he adopts a kind of faith-healing as the cancer progresses and, ultimately, consumes him.
He can be excused for reliance on his instinct. It served him well in life. Indeed, it served all of us.
I only know what Isaacson has written about this and what’s been reported. And the only thing I know about cancer is the one I’ve had to deal with. Still, the the ironies are mind-boggling. Like his claim that his uncommon insights were the result of his experience in having “more dots to connect” — and then failing to connect the most crucial ones when it came to his health. The force-of-nature personality that propelled him to so much triumph turned out to contain the seeds of his own demise: his reliance on a ferocious will that would betray him when he was most vulnerable. A vulnerable Steve Jobs? Not only ironic but oxymoronic. We could have used more of that force and more of those triumphs. It was my privilege–not always pleasant but never boring–to have worked for him in the early days. Never thought I would say this, but, he will be sorely missed.