How Tolerating Obnoxious People Can Pay Off
Topics: Tolerance, Respect, Authorities
Story for Teaching Character and Life Skills
A geeky engineer named Woz worked
with an obnoxious partner named Steve. They had certain things in common
– like an interest in computers and a love for practical jokes. But in
other ways they were worlds apart.
Steve was into this hippie thing, going barefoot all the time and
skipping way too many baths. As a result, he often stunk, but refused to
believe he stunk because he
was convinced that his weird diet kept him from needing deodorant.
Then there was the
special way Steve made you
feel when you disagreed with him. Sometimes he’d scream and cry and
pitch fits rather than believe that, just once, maybe someone else might
be right. If he didn’t like something you were working on, he’d often
say it was stupid or useless without even listening to your side. Have
you ever had to put up with people like that? Needless to say, Steve
wasn’t the easiest person to work with and many people simply couldn’t
But Woz is glad that he tolerated
Steve’s irritating quirks and hung in there with him. Together, Steve
Wozniak (known as Woz) and Steve Jobs started a little computer company
called Apple, which eventually gave the world billions of dollars worth
of useful products including computers, iPhones, iPods, iPads, and
As irritatingly different as they
were, Woz and Jobs needed each other. Woz happily programmed and
designed in solitude, not relishing dealing with publicity and sales.
Jobs became the public face of the company, helping to dream up designs
but also making sure the products got out there.
Apple became one of the most
successful companies in the world because two very different people
tolerated each other enough to work together and change the world. (1)
1. What made Steve Jobs get on people’s nerves?
2. What would have made it hard for you to get along
with Steve Jobs?
3. How do you think Woz tolerated such irritating
4. Did Woz have to agree with Job’s beliefs and
actions to tolerate him?
5. Does “tolerating” mean that you never confront
people about their obnoxious behavior?
6. When do you confront and when do you let it slide?
7. What can this story teach us about the benefits of
1) Facts from Walter Isaacson,
Steve Jobs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp.