Steve Jobs: Chosen, Special

The L.A. Times publishes excerpts from the 60 Minutes transcript of an interview with Walter Isaacson, whose Steve Jobs biography comes out today;  here are some bits about Jobs' adoption:
WALTER ISAACSON: He was very petulant. He was very brittle. He could be very, very mean to people at times. Whether it was to a waitress in a restaurant, or to a guy who had stayed up all night coding, he could just really just go at them and say, "You're doin' this all wrong. It's horrible." And you'd say, "Why did you do that? Why weren't you nicer?" And he'd say I really want to be with people who demand perfection. And this is who I am."

ISAACSON BELIEVES THAT MUCH OF IT CAN BE TRACED TO THE EARLIEST YEARS OF HIS LIFE, AND TO THE TO THE FACT THAT JOBS BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK, GIVEN UP BY HIS BIRTH PARENTS, AND ADOPTED BY A WORKING CLASS COUPLE FROM MOUNTAIN VIEW, FROM MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA.

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JOBS ALWAYS KNEW HE WAS ADOPTED, BUT IT STILL HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON HIM. HE TOLD ISAACSON THIS STORY FROM HIS EARLY CHILDHOOD DURING ONE OF THEIR MANY TAPED INTERVIEWS:

STEVE JOBS TAPES: I was, I remember right here on my lawn, telling Lisa McMoylar from across the street that I was adopted. And she said, “So does that mean your real parents didn't want you?” Ooooh, lightning bolts went off in my head. I remember running into the house, I think I was like crying, asking my parents. And they sat me down and they said, “No, you don't understand. We specifically picked you out.”

WALTER ISAACSON: He said, "From then on, I realized that I was not — just abandoned. I was chosen. I was special." And I think that's the key to understanding Steve Jobs.
Today's advice to adoptive parents is to avoid that "chosen child/you're special" meme -- children told they are "special" and that that specialness led to their being "chosen" can worry that if they aren't perfect they might be un-chosen, that if their parents discover they aren't "special" after all they'll be abandoned again.

Some might argue that, given Jobs' obvious genius and success, telling him he was special and chosen worked wonders. But I see his striving for perfection, his "meanness," as growing out of a fear that he will be abandoned again unless he is continually "special."

Yes, the world benefitted from Jobs' belief in his own specialness. But did Jobs?