Walter Isaacson spoke recently at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco about his new biography of Steve Jobs. It is a thoroughly researched account of an unusual man, some say 'genius.' No offense to Mr. Isaacson or Mr. Jobs, but I'm going to pass on reading the book.
This has nothing to do with the author, whose accomplishments I envy and admire, or the subject, who surely made a large and indelible mark on the globe. It's just that I believe in Nice. Steve Jobs did not do Nice.
Nice doesn't eliminate naughty, despite anything you hear from Santa. Nice eliminates mean, rude, insensitive and hurtful. I don't see why genius requires the latter. Isaacson said, in response to one audience question, that he wasn't defending Jobs' rudeness/meanness, but that it was part and parcel of all the wonders produced by Jobs. Definitely. Still, is it utterly required of Big Bosses and Great Creators that they be such? I don't think so. I even know some creative folks I would put in Jobs' category -- not his wealth level, but the category of contribution to the world -- who are unfailingly kind, courteous, thoughtful and............. Nice.
Amelia Robinson of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News posted an Open Forum piece in the San Francisco Chronicle of a few days back, suggesting that being nice can invoke niceness from the recipient. Furthermore, she suggested, it won't kill you to try it during this season of sometimes enforced niceness.
I say it probably wouldn't even have hurt Steve Jobs. Isaacson reports that Jobs was a good father and caring husband (even if he didn't buy Joan Baez the red dress; you have to read the book) so I'll give him that. Perhaps he was occasionally nice to his family. But it didn't seem to carry over anywhere else to any major degree.
The world probably benefits immensely from Apples (even if I'm a confirmed ThinkPad person) and iPhones and iPads and iPhenomena of all sorts. So, thanks, Steve Jobs.
The world could also benefit from kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, consideration...... nice, whether on a global or a tiny individual scale. It's good for the nice-r and good for the nicee. That's my vote for a surefire secret ingredient to make the holidays merry.
Causes Fran Johns Supports
Compassion & Choices of N.CA
San Francisco Interfaith Council