Steve Jobs used to ask Jony Ive the same question almost every day

Jony IveGetty / Mike WindleJony Ive on stage at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit

Steve Jobs once called Apple design chief Jony Ive his “spiritual partner” and the two execs had an incredibly close professional and personal relationship.

When Ive remembers his friend and coworker four years after Jobs’ death, what stands out is the Apple cofounder’s ability to stay completely and utterly focused on whatever he was working on.

Ive says that he never managed to achieve the same level of focus as Jobs had, but that the daily exercise helped him realise how satisfying it could be to say no.

Nearly every day, Jobs would ask Ive the same question.

“He would try to help me improve my focus by asking me, ‘How many times did you say no today?'” Ive said onstage at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.

In Jobs’ opinion, the more “no’s” the better. To have extreme, laser-like focus, he was always willing to reject a lot of opportunities, even if they sounded great.

“The discipline to turn your back on something you believe in passionately so you can apply yourself to what’s at hand is really remarkable,” Ive said. “It’s a deeply uncomfortable but really effective thing to do. It’s more than a practice, it’s more than a habit… it’s a really wonderful ability.”

He was humble about his level of focus compared to Jobs’ on stage, but Jobs once said Ive was “the most focused human being I’ve come across.”

Ive also talked about his new job and the stress of the creation process.

“‘Tortured’ doesn’t even begin to capture it,” he said.

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