What I Learned from Apple (Part 1/2)

I’m an Apple computer guy. When I was in college, my buddy Steve had a mac. I used it for all my work and found it far more intuitive than the PC my roommate had. When I left college, I went to work at a Bible camp where my friend, and boss, John Bechtel was also an Apple guy and I was hooked. Since then — I’ve, thankfully, never owned a PC.

Whether you like Apple or not, you can’t help but admire this company’s incredible rise to popularity. The vision and obsession of Steve Jobs to produce great products, to rock the computing world with simplicity and beauty (yes, beauty!), and to build a following of faithful customers who purchase each new version of your products is a work of art. I know in the years to come, the verdict on Steve Jobs and the type of person he was will come out loud and clear (and some of it isn’t very pretty), but what Apple has become is a direct result of his influence.

As I’ve thought about Apple computers today, I’ve come to realize that just about everything you need to know about success in living the Overboard Life can be extracted from how Apple has grown. No, I’m not saying Jobs was a Christian (or that he wasn’t!) or that Apple computer is angelic in all of its business practices — I’m just pointing out that many of their success principles can be applied to those wishing to live outside the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom:

Packaging Matters:

I remember when I bought my first generation iPhone. I couldn’t wait to get it home and open it. Not only was it one of the most amazing devices I had ever held and used (and the story of the iPhone is really amazing!), but the packaging was extraordinary. The black box with the iPhone picture on the front, opened up to the iPhone resting in this iPhone-shaped cradle that held my prized-possession like a baby. As I pulled out the phone, the charging cable, mini 3-page instruction book and two Apple stickers were sitting in the bottom of the box. Not only was the phone eye-catchingly gorgeous — so was the packaging.

I often think that the Overboard Life should be more like that. Not only should our inner lives reflect a commitment to Christ, but the “packaging” should equally reflect our commitment. Our actions and our words should show a commitment to Overboard living, and even the way we dress and express our individuality should not betray the message we try to live out. Apple has learned that a great product poorly packaged, takes away from the product. Likewise, a believer trying to live Overboard in message only, fails to deliver the powerful message that a life can offer. Overboard living must be packaged consistently.

Think Outside the Box:

In the Mid/late 90s when Apple was trying its comeback and reentry into the computer-making world, they started building computers that made people do double-takes: beige was no longer en-vogue. I remember reading an article in a popular news magazine that called Apple’s attempts at regaining market-share as “silly” and “childish”, noting that no one would purchase computers based on their colors. Not only did Apple offer computers with various colors, they also made them all-in-one units, combining the monitor and hard drive into a single case. The writer of the article pointed out that people like to work on their computers, and that combining everything into one unit made self-repair almost impossible. Apple thought differently and the company was reborn — colorful, all-in-one units included. Making a machine that was more reliable and more fashionable proved to be pivotal in Apple’s comeback.

Living the Overboard Life requires thinking outside the parameters of the way things have always been done. You can’t keep doing what you’ve always done and expect different results, instead, you have to break outside the confines of tradition and what’s “normal”, and create bold solutions to existing barriers and problems. Apple realized that making beige multi-unit computers wasn’t working for boosting sales, and although it hadn’t been done before, the unveiling of colorful all-in-one devices changed the game. Overboard living must be inventive and creative.

Don’t be Afraid to do what Others Say can’t be Done:

Like thinking outside the box, Overboard living means that you can’t give in to the murmurings of the faithless or the doubters. I remember the buzz that came around Apple’s iPhone, as Steve Jobs shocked the tech-world when he pulled it out of his pocket during its unveiling at the annual Apple conference. When critics got ahold of it, the unifying complaint (and reason why the iPhone wouldn’t work) was simple: You can’t have a phone that has just one button. While other phone makers were trying to add more features with more buttons, Apple busted the barrier with simplicity. One button was all an Apple iPhone user would need to operate their phone.

When you step out in faith to live the Overboard Life — trust me — people will tell you all the things that can’t be done. They will tell you all the dreams you won’t accomplish, and they will assure you of the goals that can’t be achieved because they’ve never been achieved before. Living the Overboard Life requires a tough skin and the ability to discern words of godly wisdom, vs words of faithless discouragement. Wisdom sees obstacles as opportunities; faithlessness sees obstacles as final roadblocks. Overboard living must be relentless.

Be sure to check out next week’s Overboard blog, part 2/2: What I learned from Apple…

 

Go ahead and take the plunge — life is better on the water!

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