“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs worked on this “Think Different” commercial with Ken Segall, Craig Tanimoto, and Lee Clow. It was part of an ad campaign to rejuvenate the withering roots of Apple in the 1990s (see video below of a version of the ad featuring Jobs' narration).
Isn’t it a little intoxicating? It has something of the character of the winged bird called hope that Emily Dickinson described as perching in the soul.
I learned in the late-night discussions in dorm cubicles that nothing intoxicates like having one indomitable idea and staying up all night to watch it emerge from my own hands. I went into the woods behind campus, built an easel out of sticks, and set it up in the cubes. Procrastinating schoolwork brought me a wealth of artistic treasure as I painted and wrote long into the night. “I’m writing a whole book tonight!” I cried to the students around me hunched in their pajamas over Latin and Greek. When a professor asked me what I thought about a lecture on art, I said, “I don’t know. I just want to paint things.”
I forgot most of the Latin, but I remembered what he said next, “That’s good. There are those who think about things, and those who do things.”
In my case, part of this is genetic. The boldness that burst from me in my college years was hiding in the genes delivered from my wild father and mother. Part of it is a desperate innate feeling that perks its head up inside me and says, “How could you not try?”
Junior year I ordered Walter Isaacson’s fat masterpiece biography of Steve Jobs and felt a delicious rush of rebellion when it came in at the campus mailroom. It felt particularly devious because in selecting Patrick Henry College I had nestled myself into a classical cradle of conservative homeschoolers—the perfect atmosphere for healthy rebellion. Perfect for someone who wanted to think outside the box without foraying into immorality. In a real sense, Patrick Henry was the box I needed. You have to have a box in order to think outside of one.
I do not know to what extent this sentiment reflects the spirit of our age. As I bumped my way through the occasional F and D-minus at a school where no one confessed to that kind of travesty, I realized that doing instead of thinking came at a price. But it was worth all the treasure.