Steve Jobs was obviously a great man who left an amazing mark on the world. His ideas on focus, simplicity, and design have had an enormously positive influence on technology and the lives of countless people, including me.
That said, I don't agree with the idea of trusting your intuition as a guiding principle in life or in business. It may have worked for Steve, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that on average, our intuition is often wrong.
To start, Homo Sapien Sapien (that’s you) has existed in roughly the same genetic form for the last 200,000 years. So it stands to reason that we have had roughly the same intuition for at least as long.
So what happened in the 195,000 years before modern civilization?
In short... Nothing.
Or roughly nothing by today’s standards. We lived in relatively small groups of hunter gatherers and spent most of our time fighting, breeding, or making finger paints.
In fact, many scientists believe that human numbers fell so low around 70,000 years ago that we nearly went extinct.
So what got us to where we are today?
It's unlikely that we experienced a change in intuition. But we did develop rational, systematic frameworks of thought for organizing and recording human knowledge.
One of the first things they teach you in science is that humans are biased. Scientific method helps us design studies that limit human bias and focus on empirical evidence. It's this idea of building knowledge around a system of reason that led to compounding discoveries and ultimately modern civilization.
The relatively new fields of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics have systematically identified nearly 100 cognitive biases in humans. These are proven cases where our natural human intuition is wrong.
But to Steve's point, maybe we intuitively know what we want to become in life. Maybe through some form of intuition or instinct, we know what will make us happy...
Or maybe not.
Dan Gilbert, has dedicated his career to researching and understanding what makes us happy. His most interesting finding is that people are notoriously bad at predicting what will actually make them happy.
So if we know that our intuition frequently produces false information, why would we trust our intuition?
Again, don't get me wrong. I think Steve Jobs was a great man, and his legacy is largely positive. But he did leave behind a group of followers who seem to think that their personal intuition should trump scientific evidence.
Personally, I think that decisions should only be made on intuition when you lack significant data.