To My Daughter: My Hero, Steve Jobs
Every morning and evening, I trade emails with my children. We take a photo and send it to each other to let the other person know what we’re up to. We call it “8:22, Where are you?” (“7:02, Where are you?” for my son) and since starting my commute to California during the week, it’s become the thing I look most forward to each day.
This morning, I wrote the following email to my 9-year-old daughter:
I’m feeling sad this morning, Gillian. Yesterday, someone very important to me died, and it leaves a hole in your heart when something like that happens.
Steve Jobs passed away last night. You probably know him as the guy who invented the iPod that you’re reading this email on.
I know him as the person who started Apple and created amazing things. He’s the reason I got excited about computers a long time ago, something that shaped my life more than I ever expected. I was just about your age when that happened. And he’s been a hero of mine ever since.
“Hero” is an interesting word. Kids usually hear it with the word “super” in front of it and imagine someone with incredible powers, a cape and a secret identify. But not all heroes are like that. Some are regular people. Steve Jobs never wore a cape. But he did have some pretty incredible powers.
He created beautiful things, and that made him a hero to me. There isn’t enough beauty in the world, and we can use all we can get.
He demanded that everything he did be excellent, the best it could possibly be, and that made him a hero to me. Too often, we settle for doing things that are just “good enough,” when we can do so much more. Steve made me want to do my best.
He had an enormous imagination and dreamt up some of the most amazing things. But he also knew how to take something that was just a thought in his head and make it real, and that made him a hero to me, too. It’s easy to have ideas, but most people don’t do anything about them, usually because they’re scared that they won’t succeed. Steve Jobs gave me courage to try new things. He made me want to not only be creative, but to create, too. He helped me to see that what you make and who you are are one and the same.
And he understood better than anyone else what it means to be a human being, and that made him a very special hero to me, too. He taught me that we are all here to make a difference in the lives of others, and I try to ask myself every day if I’m doing that. He taught me that the people you surround yourself with in life — your family, your friends, the people you choose to do things with — will shape the person you become and what you accomplish. Every day, I think about the people in my life and whether they are helping me be the best person I can be. And I also ask if I’m helping them to be amazing, too, because it works both ways.
I never met him, and now I never will. That makes me sad, because it was one of the things I wanted more than anything else. When I started my job at Apple a few months ago, I’d hoped I’d get a chance to work with him one day. And even though that never happened, it’s been an honor to be able to work at a company that my hero created. And that makes me happy.
Steve Jobs once said that he wanted to “put a ding in the universe.” It’s a funny expression, one that means that he wanted to make a difference in the world. He did that for me, no question. Only Grandma, Grandpa and your mother have had a bigger influence on the person I’ve become.
So yes, Daddy is sad. It’s always sad when someone special to you dies. But it’s also a time to celebrate that person’s life, and thinking about how Steve Jobs changed my own life makes me happy. I’m a better person because of my hero, and that’s a pretty wonderful feeling.
I want you to “put a ding in the universe,” too, Gillian, and I know that you will. It’s what I wish for you more than anything. I don’t know how it will happen yet. Maybe it will be through your writing or your dancing or your funny stories and games. Or maybe it will be through something that you haven’t even done yet, something that is still left for you to discover. But I know you will find it, and I know that you won’t give up until you do.
And you will do amazing things, Gillian, I have no no doubt about that at all.
Love and tickles, Daddy xxxooo