When Apple, Inc.’s CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad tablet as “a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price” he was certainly talking about the iPad’s ease of use. Like any great statement, however, many translations exist. I prefer to see Steve talking about the iPad as the amazing translation of Apple’s perseverance in developing the optimal computing device for every global citizen.
While perseverance is the key word here, the translation of that word is also very important. Had Apple merely stuck with the tried and true desktop PC model and come out with an evolutionary product, that would certainly have been both an understandable result of vision and perhaps have augmented the global supply of desktop computers. But here the translation was to a device which did not need a keyboard, a floppy drive, or even a power cord, and yet provides nearly all the computing power a person needs. Note that previous attempts at a tablet computer by other companies did not take the world by storm, so this unique recipe of perseverance was indeed magical.
In the I Ching (Yijing), the Book of Changes, the meaning of perseverance can go many ways, but the general idea is that perseverance, or continual hard work, generally brings good fortune. This good fortune can appear to others to be what I’ll call “magical energy”, or simply “magic”, but in the end it is always the result of somebody’s hard work.
The I Ching’s hexagram 30, Li — The Clinging, Fire, yields several different translations. The judgements vary thusly:
“Let (its subject) also nourish (a docility like that of) the cow, and there will be good fortune.”
– trans by James Legge, 1882, (c) University Books, Inc., 1964, 1986
“The clinging. Perseverance furthers.
It brings success.
Care of the cow brings good fortune.”
– trans by Wilhelm/Baynes, (c) 1950, 1971
“Compliance with the shifts of fortune assures survival. Symbol of docility, a cow was also an important capital reserve for farmers.”
– trans by Kerson and Rosemary Huang, (c) 1985, 1987
The Wilhelm/Baynes “Perseverance furthers” is the most widely quoted phrase from the various interpretations of this trigram, meaning that hard work over a long time generally yields good results. Just as the ideas, technology, and implementation of Steve Jobs and company yielded a “magical and revolutionary device”, anyone seeking a goal must turn away from distractions and work hard toward the attainment of that goal. I. A. Smalis puts it best in his book “Money: Only a By-Product”: “Turn off that blasted television and concentrate on your goals!”