Reality Distortion Field

What Does Reality Distortion Field Mean?

A reality distortion field (RDF) is a phenomenon in which an individual’s intellectual abilities, persuasion skills and persistence make other people believe in the possibility of achieving very difficult tasks. The term was coined by Apple employee Bud Tribble to describe former Apple Inc. co-founder, CEO and chairman Steve Jobs’ ability to encourage his team to complete virtually any assigned or delegated task.

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Techopedia Explains Reality Distortion Field

There are two sides to the reality distortion field. The positive is that it demonstrates how Steve Jobs bent reality in such a way that a difficult or impossible task was made to appear possible, or even easy. The primary objective of this technique was to inspire employees and motivate them to tackle challenging situations in pursuit of an objective or goal. Although all good managers aim to inspire their teams in some regard, RDF implies Jobs’ legendary charisma, which many believe helped Apple achieve results that otherwise would not have been possible. In this way, his distortion field was a huge leadership attribute.

The flip side is that the distortion field was Steve Jobs’ darker side. Many considered him so driven that he would lie, pester, cheat or do whatever it took to succeed. In this light, a cynic would point to RDF as Jobs’ ability to manipulate people to do what he wanted.

With the passing of Steve Jobs, the term is sometimes used in a generic sense beyond just the context of Jobs himself.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…