Steve Jobs and the Aptronym

October 6th, 2011

“…No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because 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. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary….”

While I usually have the pleasure of celebrating births on this blog, today I feel compelled to commemorate the death of Steve Jobs.  For years, he’s been someone that although I rarely thought of, he’s had an impact on my day to day existence.

Steve Jobs changed the way we relate to one another.  In addition to his inspiring words and influence on creativity in the modern age, no one has had as much of an impact on employment numbers than Mr. Jobs.  He he helped to catapult internet commerce, altered the way we share information, and created an ever increasingly level playing field for the modern entrepreneur.  He created a company whose profits exceed those of the U.S. government.  If anyone exemplifies what it means to possess an aptronym: a name that is suited to its bearer, it’s Steve Jobs.

Hope Solo, the female U.S. soccer goalie, on whom our hopes are pinned as she goes it alone to keep the ball out of the net, wears and aptronym.  It’s as if it were destined from birth that she would have this job.

Another athlete, Usain Bolt, is the fastest runner in the world.  He bolts like no one’s business.  During the 2008 Olympics, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Garret Weber-Gale was blessed with webbed feet.

Madonna has always credited her name in part to contributing to her destiny.  Hers would be an example of the ironic aptronym.

Tanya Banks is a financial analyst.  There’s a dermatologist in Memphis called Dr. Whitehead, a urologist in Austin who goes by Dr. Dick Chopp.  Sometimes I wish I was making this stuff up.

In many cases, the name comes after the occupation.  Families Miller, Baker, and Hunter, likely have ancestors who were just that.  When we choose a name for a child, we think about what they one day might become and try to choose accordingly.  The musical Overstreet family chose well for son Chord, a singer on Glee.  Does a name help to shape one’s destiny?

What difference will the passing of Steve Jobs have on employment numbers at Apple Computer?  Had Steve Jobs been Steve Jenkins, would there have been an Apple at all?  Likely it would never have made a difference to his drive and passion, but it’s interesting to ponder.

Do you have anyone in your life who has lived up to their name?