Among the many tributes and articles about the passing of Steve Jobs, Roger Black’s stood out for me this morning:

“And all of us Apple users are wondering what we’ll do without him. Will Apple be as good? How can they be as good? That genius, that leader, that great impresario who staged an exponential synthesis of culture—the very essence of great design—is gone.”

By its very nature, genius cannot be replaced. By the same token, it cannot be predicted. The individuals in Apple’s 1997 Think Different video appeared in our world, changed it forever, and passed. Their passing didn’t mark the end of change, or the end of genius.

And we never saw any of it coming. Who could predict Martin Luther King? Frank Lloyd Wright? Jane Goodall? Or any of the others. Just so, we won’t know the next genius until he or she lights upon us.

“…Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
—Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford commencement address

Death cleared out Steve Jobs. That’s a harsh way to put it, but it’s true. No one will replace Steve Jobs, because that’s not the way it works. Genius is one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable.  All we have to look forward to is someone wildly unexpected and marvelous, someone who will change our world in ways that we could never have imagined.


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