Ideas, Ideals and Grit: Remembering Steve Jobs & Fred Shuttlesworth
October 10, 2011 § Leave a Comment
On Wednesday, two disruptive innovators died. National and social media outlets focused much of our attention on the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who, at 54, left us far too soon. You may not have heard that Fred Shuttlesworth died on the same day, aged 89. Heck, if you’re like me, you didn’t know who Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth was before Wednesday.
I would like to think of them simultaneously because their collective impact stands for much of what is needed in public education.
Both men forever changed how we live. Jobs married technological innovation with the elegance, beauty and creativity found in the humanities. This integration was intentional. Jobs said, “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” It makes me think that for all the necessary STEM initiatives, we must continue to develop creativity and innovation through the humanities. A constant innovator, Jobs challenged us to follow our great ideas.
Reverend Shuttlesworth, a leader in the Civil Rights movement, showed a commitment to social responsibility, equity and justice. With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Later, he helped to organize the freedom rides in 1961. He believed in non-violence, fairness and equality, and had the courage to fight against the unjust status quo. Moreover, instead of focusing on what you can get out of life, Shuttlesworth said that it’s what you put in that counts: live not for what you can get, but for what you can do. A disrupter of the highest order, Shuttlesworth challenged us to live up to our best ideals.
As I reflect on Jobs’ and Shuttlesworth’s successes, I’m also impressed by the way they handled failure. Jobs didn’t complete college, was ousted by Apple’s board in the mid-80s, and launched a failed computer named the Cube while at NeXT. Shuttlesworth survived multiple attempts on his life, was hospitalized after being attacked by Bull Connor’s water cannons while leading a non-violence demonstration and the KKK tossed dynamite into his home. Both men experienced considerable setbacks throughout their lives, only to persevere to see a world a little closer to the one they envisioned. That’s what we call grit.
I would like to live in a world where all children are encouraged to pursue their ideas, uphold their values and learn from failure. Here’s hoping that our public schools produce more people like these two impressive individuals.
Ideas, ideals & grit: Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth, we are all grateful for your impact on the human story.