Living outside the box

From a recent interview with Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO):

Tim Cook: “Steve [Jobs] felt that most people live in a small box. They think they can’t influence or change things a lot. And more than anybody I’ve ever met, Steve never accepted that. He got each of us to reject that philosophy. Through his actions, way more than any preaching, he embedded this nonacceptance of the status quo into the company. [And] his selection of people helped propel the culture.”

“He’s not given credit as a teacher. But he’s the best teacher I ever had by far. There was nothing traditional about him as a teacher. But he was the best. He was the absolute best.”

Interviewer: Do you fear that your strategy of vertical integration is becoming too complex, too unmanageable, too big a job?

Tim Cook: “No, because we don’t live in the box. We are outside of that. What I see is that we have to continually have the discipline to define the problem so that it can be done. If you try to engineer to the complexity, then it does become the impossible dream. But if you step back and think about the problem differently, think about what you’re really trying to do, then I don’t think it becomes an impossible task at all.”

Define the problem so that it can be done. See past the complexity. Think differently.

I think that’s a pretty good definition of leadership.