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Even Iconic Leaders - Like Steve Jobs - Are Flesh and Blood

Even Iconic Leaders Like Steve Jobs Are Flesh and BloodLike everyone else, I watched the "secret" video of Apple CEO Steve Jobs looking frail and unsteady while walking to his car. All I could think of is how sad and tragic life can be and how we tend to take that for granted until it's actually upon us.

And like others, I'm sure, I can't help but internalize what Jobs and his family might be going through. Years ago, driving home from work, I got a call from my mother-in-law. She sounded scared and maybe a little in shock.

My wife, who was having what was believed to be a benign tumor removed, had cancer. I don't even remember the 45 minute drive home that night. What I do remember is how scared and helpless I felt for a long, long time after getting that call. The hardest thing was not being there.

A few weeks later, I was taking a walk with my CEO - that's how we had our weekly one-on-one meetings - and I told him about my wife. As it turns out, he also had cancer, years before. And while he'd been clean for some time, he said the hardest part about it was living with uncertainty. It can always come back.

My wife's been clean for many years now, but there's always that little bit of fear, you know? And two years ago, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with liver cancer. It was almost too late when they found a donor for her transplant, and I'm pretty sure my wife felt the way I had, years before, right down to the wire.

Well, today is Apple's annual shareholder meeting and there are all sorts of news stories about Apple shareholders demanding a succession plan and information about Steve Jobs' health. I don't blame them. After all, Apple's a public company, the second most valuable in America, and Steve Jobs is its iconic chief executive.

I've done my fair share of writing about Jobs. But today, after seeing that video, the man's role as CEO of the world's most important technology company is the furthest thing from my mind.

Today, I'm thinking about how even iconic leaders are flesh and blood people, just like you and me. They live with pain, fear, and uncertainty, just like you and me. They have families who love them, just like you and me.

Since Steve Jobs is notoriously passionate about his job as CEO of Apple, I can only assume that it continues to be a comfort to him, even as he battles what may very well be a life-threatening health issue.

As for whether that's good or bad for Apple's stakeholders, I just can't seem to think about that today.

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Image: Joi via Flickr
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