Steve Jobs – The Reality Distortion Field. And Yours Too

The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand

Steve Jobs treated life as if it was flexible, and he used it to become a creator of reality. “The minute that you understand that you can poke life and … if you push it, something will pop out the other side,” says Jobs, “… you can change it. You can mould it. Maybe the most important thing is to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it.”

Jobs leveraged this to success to create a reality distortion field, a term used by Apple designer Bud Tribble to describe the “charisma of Jobs and his impact on people.” Apple developer Andy Herzfeld claimed that Jobs could “convince himself and others to believe almost anything”. 

Tribble said “The reality distortion field was a confounding melange of a charismatic rhetorical style, an indomitable will, and an eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand. Amazingly, the reality distortion field seemed to be effective even if you were acutely aware of it, although the effects would fade after Steve departed. We would often discuss potential techniques for grounding it … but after a while most of us gave up, accepting it as a force of nature”.

Steve’s success as a leader lay in his ability to make life smooth not only for himself but for others as well. Not charisma, but the ability to change the way situations arise for others allowed Jobs to change the entire industry.

The way he does this is by talking. Jobs was able to communicate the new reality to others convincingly. Mac, iPod and iPhone are examples of the results of his conviction and communicative abilities. It sounds easy to speak, but Jobs spoke a different language.

Jobs used speaking to create. He had visualized a future and in his words, ‘he was pushing on life from the future and a new reality was popping out on the other side back in the present’.

There was a huge paradigm shift within Apple and Jobs gave different realities to different groups. Apple designers might regularly find themselves with a problem that looked insolvable but after Jobs spoke, the problem would be solved.  

Look at the way Tim Cook was brought to Apple. Jobs did not explain the job and the accruements but instead told him about how the transformation possibilities. 

When the two met for the first time, Jobs explained his strategy and vision for Apple. He described a product that would shake up the computing world, nothing like before. (The product was the successful iMac G3) Cook was intrigued. Though he was happy at Compaq, Jobs showed him an exciting future.“ He told me a little about the design, enough to get me interested”. He was convinced that working with Jobs would be the “privilege of a lifetime. Any purely rational consideration of cost and benefits lined up in Compaq’s favour, and the people who knew me best advised me to stay at Compaq,” Cook said.

Your Reality Distortion Field

Your character with its strengths, flaws, skill sets determines your distortion. This is what you project yourself as. And that perceived reality becomes an actual reality. Some examples

• Nervous about public speaking, make sure it benefits everyone and your unpolished speaking skills are the reality.

• Afraid to talk to a big client, your body language will show and the difference in strength becomes a reality.

• Believe that you will never get fit, you will never take the chance to get fit and therefore your flab will become reality.

• See yourself as a leader, you will seize the opportunity to lead, and therefore your leadership becomes a reality.

Our beliefs about ourselves are self-fulfilling predictions. It can be changed. Simple, you can choose what to think about yourself.

If you want to be a great speaker, think of yourself as a great toastmaster. If you want to be in shape, see yourself having a great body.

Not easy at all! Changing old belief systems is tough. Our mind will say: This is a lie! I am not like that! 

So tell your mind – I am

You do this over and over, day by day, thought by thought. Also called mind hacking or reprogramming. One day you wake up and – here! – The field has become a reality.

May The Field Be With You

 Thinking “anything is possible” does not mean it may happen soon. Make plans for what we can achieve and do the work to make it happen. An “anything is possible” attitude is the basis.

Steve Jobs’ “Reality Distortion Field” did not permit him to accept the constraints, to convince himself that any adversity can be overcome. His belief was really strong and he could convince others that they could accomplish the unattainable. It was a powerful internal reality that it became an external reality. He was indeed a great mind hacker.

You can too. Think different!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.