In Derek Sivers Ted talk about how to start a movement, he outlines the importance of the first follower. Before the first follower, a leader is just a nut. The leader is an outsider, a weirdo, a person to be held in contempt and ridicule. But as soon as the first follower comes into the picture, the leader is instantly transformed into the trendsetter. The visionary. The leader.
I don’t believe that Steve Jobs was a leader in that way. There’s nothing very special and unique about him. He didn’t have any great technical skills. He wasn’t a visionary in that he created something new that no one else has ever seen before.
What Steve Jobs was instead, was a genius at being the first follower. He was the best cheerleader that a weirdo can ever have. He believed, and he put his entire life on the line for something, and someone, that he believed in. It first started with Wozniak, then the animators at Lucas Inc, which he helped turn into Pixar, then NextTel, then offshoots from Xerox into Adobe. (not in any chronological order because I’m too lazy to do the actual research)
But he wasn’t someone who stupidly bet all his chips into some lame unique technology. He also wasn’t lazy or inept. He was a genius in recognizing the value of something and then he had the courage to lay his entire career on the line for it. Over and over again he bet it all for what he believed in.
He had courage. But also importantly, he had compassion and understanding. He had compassion to be able to be the only support for people who knew that they were doing something great.. but no one else believed in them. And he had understanding to realize the value of what those people were trying to do, what they believed in.
He might not have been the greatest leader.. but he was probably the greatest follower these two centuries have ever seen.