It was recently reported that Apple has more cash on hand than the US government. Even more impressive, Apple has catapulted itself to become the nation’s second largest corporation.
Not bad for a company that nearly a decade ago was an afterthought and considered a prime takeover target.
But Apple is not just a corporate success story. Apple can teach us all a thing or two about money and achievement.
Failure Is But A Stepping Stone to Success
Did Apple always unleash seductive iPhones and iPads upon the eagerly awaiting masses? Hardly. Apple has produced more than its fair share of duds.
The Apple Lisa was an overpriced, underpowered desktop computer while the Newton was an over-sized, poorly functioning PDA.
Both were colossal flops.
But without the Lisa or Newton, there would have never been the Macbook, iPhone or iPad.
Those early Apple failures were stepping stones to greater success.
In our own lives the fear of failure stymies dreams. It can cripple initiative and bind our talents. Society has even tricked us into believing failure is a reflection of our intrinsic worth or ability, rather than a normal stop on the road to success.
Once we understand that failure is simply a stepping stone to greatness, we can embrace it rather than fear it.
Go The Extra Mile
Apple doesn’t create good products. Apple creates great products.
Their devices stretch the limits of design and usability. They’ve turned the basic MP3 player into a necessity and the mundane cell phone into a phenomena.
And going the extra mile has paid off in a big way.
Unfortunately, we often don’t put in the same extra effort that would make our own work spectacular. So many people are content with doing just enough to get by.
But that’s the good news for you.
So few of us are willing to go the extra mile, that those willing to put in the extra 10% stand out like crimson roses in a field of weeds.
Never Settle. Seek Continual Improvement.
Apple is currently on the seventh version of its computer operation system MAC OS X, each version significantly better than the last.
You see, Apple never settles. They’re always seeking to improve on their latest creation. You can bet when the next iPhone 5 is unveiled that Apple will have already been working on the iPhone 6.
The Japanese have a name for it, Kaizen – an obsessive insistence on constant improvement. And Kaizen has served them well. In the 70s, Japanese tin “toy” cars were the laughing stocks of the automotive industry, but today Japanese automakers are getting the last laugh.
You can use Kaizen in your own life. Small consistent improvements made over time can make you a superstar at work, help you lose weight, or allow you to develop a new skill.
Consider, for example, the employee who reads one book a month in her area of expertise. At the end of one year she will possess vastly more knowledge than her colleagues.
Run 15 yards farther each day and by the end of the year you’re easily running 3 miles.
Consistent, small improvements drive success.
Spend Money on the Right Things
“We don’t let the cash burn a hole in the pocket or make stupid acquisitions. We’d like to continue to keep our powder dry because we think there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future.”
Steve Jobs – Apple CEO
Is it any wonder why Apple has more cash on hand than the US government? The company doesn’t spend its money frivolously.
In the tech community Apple is known for not making a lot of acquisitions, unlike many of its competitors. You won’t find Apple using its cash to purchase a smaller tech company just because the company’s technology “sounds” cool.
No, every potential purchase is scrutinized in the greatest detail. Only those companies that can specifically help Apple achieve its ultimate goals are gobbled up by the tech giant.
What if we used cash like Apple? What if we didn’t let cash burn a hole in our pockets?
Unfortunately, most of us spend everything we make. Lifestyle inflation causes us to forget the golden rule of wealth:
Wealth = Income – Expenses
Perhaps the biggest lesson we can learn from Apple is to spend money on only those things that truly make us happy or that ultimately bring us closer to our goals, instead of wasting it on every shining distraction that comes our way.
Spending money on the right things guarantees both wealth and happiness.
Photo Credit: hsivonen (Flickr)