What does it mean to be ground breaking?
An answer by one of my recent interviewees sparked some activity in my vacationing mind this spring break. Here is the question and answer:
Q. IF YOU WERE THE HEAD OF APPLE FOR ONE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
A. I would raise the wages of all employees, lower the prices of products like the iPad and Mac, and create something groundbreaking! It has been far too long since Apple has come out with a truly revolutionary product.
So I asked myself: What does it mean to be groundbreaking.
Groundbreaking in its most literal form is an adjective for something that breaks the ground. This term is most commonly used figuratively to describe a noun (person, place, thing or idea) that is innovative and has the power to change its "general sphere."
Here is one great example:
Michael Jordan in my mind and many others is the best basketball player that has ever lived. Michael was truly groundbreaking, or really "ground-avoiding" with his high flying dunks that mesmerized fans and opponents alike. He won the scoring champion title 10 times, averaging 30.1 points per game. No one has come close to this record. He along with other players like Scottie Pippin, and an amazing coach, Phil Jackson, won 6 NBA championships. Not only that but he, along with Nike, really created the trend of athlete apparel with Air Jordan.
Now let's relate this back to the topic in question: Apple.
Apple is responsible for many groundbreaking technology products of my time. Some(myself) would call them the Chicago Bulls of the tech industry. A star player(iPhone), an outstanding supporting cast (Mac, iPad, iPod), and a fearless, meditative leader with more passion than anyone else (Tim Cook). What is Apple's Jordan shoe? I would say the iPod but that is up for debate.
Both of these organizations are undoubtedly innovative, and groundbreaking.
But this is what I have come to find:
When you are a revolutionary, you are "off your game" if you perform averagely. (Or only above-averagely.) And your are "no longer great" if you are not groundbreaking day after day.
Whenever Michael would have an off night (20 points or so), all the non-belivers, the critics, would speculate that Michael was finally coming down from his unreachable performance tower. Even after his extraordinary career people tried to say that it was trash talking that won him games.
People all over school know me as the tech/Apple guy. Whenever they feel so inclined to search Apple in Google News many of the articles that appear talk about how Apple is on it's way out. They then come to me with their screen blazing, and say, "Hey looks like your beloved Apple is losing to this new Galaxy thing." I simply respond by saying, "Hey that's interesting, and by the way nice iPhone."
The general public likes to see success but more than that, unfortunately, they love to see failure. That's why everyone secretly hoped that the "flu" could stop MJ, or hopes that the Samsung Galaxy S-Whatever will bring the iPhone to its knees. But just like MJ scored 38 points against the Jazz that fateful night, the groundbreaker that is Apple will see another day.
Now I will be the first to admit that the king cannot reign forever but trust me, Apple's wonderful rule is not over yet. Sure the competition is quicker, stronger, but no one is Apple just like no one is MJ.
And when the time comes for a groundbreaker to leave their stage, they always do it with a bang. Believe me Apple will do the same.