Steve Jobs‘ creativity is one of the most outstanding qualities of his genius, which Jobs enhanced through two very simple techniques: walks and meditation. Both allow us to clear our minds and renew our thoughts, putting a brake on our busy and stressful daily lives.
Steve Jobs’ famous walks
The anecdotes in which Steve Jobs appears on a walk, alone or accompanied, are numerous. When interviewing potential candidates for a job at Apple, the length of the walk was a clear indicator of the candidate’s value. The longer it lasted, the more likely the future employee was to be hired, perhaps because the conversation that took place was interesting to Apple’s co-founder.
In Steve Jobs’ official biography, author Walter Isaacson remembers inviting him to speak at a conference. Jobs declined, though he said he would go with him and then walk and talk. Isaacson said:
I didn’t know yet that taking a long walk was his favorite way to have a serious conversation. As it turned out, he wanted me to write his biography.
At this time, Isaacson thought Jobs’ request for a ride was “strange”. However, it was already known to his friends, employees and acquaintances. One of them, named Robert Friedland, also remembers him taking barefoot walks on the company campus.
Walking barefoot was something Steve Jobs had been doing since he was a teenager. Probably as a way of rebelling and being in touch with his spirituality.
Run and walk to get creativity
ALL TRULY GREAT THOUGHTS ARE CONCEIVED BY WALKING – FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE.
The truth is that Steve Jobs used his walks as a way to generate new ideas. One of his most common walking partners was Jony Ive with whom Jobs talked about new ideas, commented on interesting things or simply let his creativity fly. And all of this has been confirmed by a study from the Stanford University in California.
To evaluate the benefits of taking walks on people’s creativity, this study conducted four experiments with 185 people. Participants were asked to complete different tasks while sitting for a while and others after they had walked a bit. Specifically, the experiments were as follows:
- Experiment 1: Participants completed the tests while sitting and then while walking on a treadmill.
- Experiment 2: Participants completed the tests in three ways, first by sitting and then by walking; then by walking and then by sitting; and finally by sitting all the time.
- Experiment 3: The experiments were completed with outdoor walks.
- Experiment 4: The effect of moving outdoors was separated from the effect of moving physically by having the participants move around with the help of a wheelchair, or by walking freely.
The conclusion of the study is that 81%, 88%, 100%, and 100% of the participants in each experiment respectively improved their creativity while walking. It didn’t matter if they walked inside a building or outdoors. Nor did it matter if there was a lot of hustle and bustle around, such as walking around a college campus.
Stanford University showed in 2014 that walks, greatly improve a person’s creative ability
Steve Jobs almost certainly knew the effects that walking has on creativity. Of course that was always one of his best “weapons” for dealing with important issues. So now we have one more reason to close the blue ring of the Apple Watch every day.
Meditation, the other secret weapon of Steve Jobs
From a very young age, Steve Jobs was attracted to Zen meditation. This kind of meditation comes from Buddhism and:
It involves observing and letting go of the thoughts and feelings that arise in the stream of mind, as well as the development of knowledge about the nature of the body and the mind.
Because he had been practicing meditation for a long time, Jobs cultivated a number of qualities that marked the rest of his life. The first of these was to develop the courage to follow his intuition. As he said in his famous Stanford speech:
Because he had been practicing meditation for a long time, Jobs cultivated a number of qualities that marked the rest of his life. The first of these was to develop the courage to follow his intuition. As he said in the famous Stanford speech:
Each person’s time is limited. Don’t waste it trying to live someone else’s life. Make sure the noise of another person’s voice doesn’t cover the noise of your inner voice. The most important thing is to have the courage to follow your mind and your intuition. You know what the mind and intuition want. Everything else is secondary.
For Jobs, time spent in meditation is time spent finding our true selves. The second quality Jobs promoted was simplicity. Again, in Jobs’ biography:
Jobs’ fierceness and focus were obvious skills. First, he prioritized and then focused his attention by filtering out distractions. If something caught his attention, he focused on it without delay. He excluded some buttons to make the machine simpler, removed functions to make the software simpler, removed options and made the interface simple. He believed that his ability to concentrate and his simplicity were related to his Zen meditation.
He trained himself to respect his intuition and taught himself to filter out all distractions and unnecessary things to cultivate the aesthetics of minimalism.
And this is certainly something that can be seen in every piece of Apple hardware and software. The simplicity of the apple’s products has endured after Jobs’ death.
The third of his qualities is that he was very unconventional, constantly looking to break the mold of the usual. He believed that when people age, they tend to fall into a kind of predetermined lane, similar to the grooves on a vinyl record, from which it is very difficult to escape. In the face of this, Jobs likewise used meditation to escape this conventionality and create new paths for his life and the lives of others.
Between creative walks and meditation, Steve Jobs had two very powerful weapons with which he managed to change the world in many ways. And he did so several times throughout his life.