Intensity of energy, drive, compassion, and frustration is a well-documented aspect of having extraordinary intelligence and empathy. Steve Jobs was lucky he had productive outlets for his intensity, but he also paid a high price. I deeply admire that he was strong enough to not let his creative passion be subdued or muted by the people around him who were clueless about how to cultivate or cope with his intense drive to innovate.
Luckily he insisted on cultivating it himself. Even when he got booted from Apple for his emotional intensity, he refused to give up and moved on to become the force behind Pixar and Toy Story.
It takes a very intense kind of person to challenge the status quo and do what people say can’t be done. Not only were lots of people not supporting him, they were actively trying to suppress and modify him as well. How long would you stand up for your big idea if everyone around you was trying to change it?
“But for all his obnoxiousness with his colleagues…, Jobs had a rich collaborative streak as well. He was enough of an egomaniac to think of himself as another John Lennon, but he was always looking for McCartneys to go along for the ride with him.”
This is a quote from Steven Johnson, author of the brilliant book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation speaking about Steve Jobs in this article: thoughts-on-steve-jobs-the-book
To me, this is a kind of intellectual bullying – the kind that creative, emotionally intense and gifted adults and children experience their whole lives.Intense people are often unaware of the affect they have on people and consequently their intentions and thinking process are deeply misunderstood by others. Intensity is a form of neurodiversity. Unharnessed, emotional, intellectual and energetic intensity can feel overwhelming to people.
To me, Steve Jobs exhibited a personality trait called “hypersystemizing” or “addicted to insight.” Hypersystemizing has a biological basis and is often the driving force behind the kind of idealism and perfectionist behavior that Steve Jobs displayed. This is not everyday perfectionism, however. It’s a deep driving need to create something truly magnificent and not let others water down the visionary ideas with “groupthink.”