I’m 2/3 of the way through Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography of Steve Jobs. Most people that know even a little about Steve Jobs know that he was not only a brilliant marketer and visionary when it came to delivering what people didn’t even know they wanted, he was also a pretty messed up human being.
It’s evident to me that being at the top of one’s field, craft, or even profession means that you’ve had to sacrifice many things – maybe having what we call a ‘normal’ life more than anything else. Having a special talent (think Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein) seems to require a certain amount of aloofness to the world around you at best and being considered an a**hole the worst. There’s a price to pay for brilliance – not everyone is or can be brilliant.
The same can be said for a large number of famous people like movie stars and athletes. To be considered ‘brilliant’ and extraordinary in your chosen field requires dedication, single-mindedness and an extreme effort that most people are not willing to make – even if they blessed with enough talent. Being arrogant, misanthropic, uncaring and a reprehensible human being appear to be part of the make-up of that exclusive club.
Does this mean that in order to be a ground-breaker you 100% have to be a social misfit? There are no doubt examples of people who do not fit that category. It’s just that I cannot think of even a few examples so you can help me out here if you are able.
The portrait of the tortured artist and visionary is vivid and true don’t you think? Is it sad or is it poetic justice? Or is it just the way things have to be?