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Guy Kawasaki, former Apple employee, wrote a poignant and poetic article of the lessons he learned from the recently passed, Apple founder Steve Jobs.

“The starting point of changing the world is by changing a few minds. That is the greatest lesson I learned from Steve Jobs.”

Not to jump on the bandwagon, but consider me flight… I believe the single most important lesson and the legacy that is Steve Jobs is – change is not only good, but also necessary. It is frightening and amazing. It is how we continue to evolve, to grow beyond the current shell that is safe and familiar but also limiting.

Change is inherently frightening to people because it challenges people to believe in the unknown, unseen and unproven. It says- push away from that safe place on the wall of the pool and get over here in the deep end. It asks us to believe in ourselves in a way that as a culture, we are reluctant to do try.

We applaud those innovators that crack open the shell and bring in the light we didn’t know existed; brilliant we anoint them forgetting often times they were also fools who took risks that failed. The “losers” we warn our children and colleagues about.

The reality is- we are all both winners and losers; brilliant and bozos existing side by side in the same space. Our fear of change often manifesting the loss by missed opportunities or being slaves to predictive and habitual practices of business and relationships.

I spent my morning talking with a friend who is being pushed in ways he has never experienced in 25+ years and common wisdom would say- buckle down, don’t make waves, comply to survive.  But everything in his body, his psyche and his understanding of the business says stand up and PUSH BACK! If he were his own client, his counsel would be to change the system- your company is bleeding to death slowly because of short term, short sighted decisions that do not serve the company as a whole for the long term. The reason for our conversation was to explore this situation with a different lens- change the perspective.  To take the emotion (reactionary processing) out of the system and respond with a decision that may not be predictable but is responsible to those who matter most to him.

Change is hard. Change is Scary.  But change is also a gift that allows you and your company to imagine the possibilities; to take an offensive posture instead of a defensive posture. While defense will prevent your opponent from advancing, offense is what puts points on the board. You need to score to win. You need to innovate to survive.

Your company will need to change to evolve in a ever changing competitive landscape- but more importantly- to remain relevant. The beauty of the free market system is that customer pressure drives innovation and forces the price down. Customer pressure makes diamonds out of coal- to bring our best foot forward.

To create a line of defense against pressures  that are moving your company forward is silly- it is also using resources to stay put. The secret is to identify how to harness that same pressure, to use that energy to advance your company rather than to hold a line o defense. Where do you find your IPOD moment? How do you jump the curve and deliver to your customers that which they didn’t know they were missing.

Where is the white space in your industry, market and customer base?

The Starting point of change is truly to change your own mind.

Best, MMM

MMMaule@3m-group.com