“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
I first heard that quote by Steve Jobs back in 2005 or 2006 when I saw the YouTube® video of his commencement address at Stanford. I still remember watching it that day up in my office in Batesville, Indiana. I knew in an instant that he was speaking truth.
At that moment in my life, I was spending a lot of time and energy trying to connect the dots of my life looking forward. I was trying to “figure things out.” Trying to figure out what I should be doing and why I was put on this planet.
I was trying really hard. I was doing everything I could think of… except paying attention to what was right in front of my face. Oh… and except for simply enjoying each day as the gift it truly is. Oh… and except for actually looking inside myself for my own answers.
Over the past few years, I’ve grown up just a bit. I realize now that I’m never going to “figure it out.” And I don’t have to. Because my real task is to simply show up and be fully me. To follow my own path and be OK with that.
The “I’m never going to figure it out” thing might sound a bit fatalistic to the over achiever who wants to “make something of himself.”
To me, it’s about the most liberating thought I know.
The fact is…
There’s No One Out There Who Has the Answers for YOU
I’ve spent far too much of my life looking for answers to what I should be doing and who I should be becoming. I’ve spent countless dollars ingesting the ideas of other people who have no idea who I am, what I’m about or what I want to do with my life.
I naively thought that my answers might be found in some of those books. Instead, I found other people’s answers. I found stories of other people accomplishing things I thought I wanted to accomplish.
Only fairly recently did I realize that my answers would only come as fast as they were supposed to come. And more importantly, that those answers would bubble up from the inside of me rather than being reeled in from some place on the outside.
You might think this sounds just a bit too “airy fairy” to be a business article. But I think the days are fast approaching when people will wake up and realize that there was never really meant to be a line between business and life.
We put the line there because it made us feel safe. It allowed us to go off into the world and “be somebody” without having to really figure out much about the person we already were.
But we’re humans, not robots. And we don’t live in compartments that we can switch on and off like machines. We can do that, but it just ends up making us miserable. Our goal is to live as full and complete human beings. And that comes from integrating all of the parts of our life into one whole person.
You have the answer about how to do that.
You might not realize you have the answer yet, but it is in there. Life experiences will bring the answer out, but only if you are listening and watching closely. In the end, you will lead yourself to where you are meant to be.
What? You don’t need an expert to lead you?
Experts are valuable for helping you make progress, but you are the leader. It’s your life. Don’t abdicate your responsibility for its outcome.
If you are sitting there searching for your answers to questions about your life and business, let Steve Job’s advice and life serve as a gentle reminder to you that no one knows what they are doing.
We are all in this thing called life to learn.
But don’t think you are in business to prove anything to anyone. You don’t need to “figure it out” so you can be somebody.
You just need to put one foot in front of the other and follow the path that’s been set out for you.
You will mess up. And you will fall.
There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s called life. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Because that’s how you learn.
And we are here to learn.
Moments like the passing of a great icon are an opportunity. Because they break through, even if just for a split second, the craziness that is life. And in those briefest of moments, we catch a glimpse of what lies beneath the mind numbing amount of activity we endure each day.
The passing of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, is an opportunity for all of us. It is an opportunity to see clearly.
In a very short time, that opportunity will be gone. Life will resume and we’ll forget the feeling we have now. The feeling that comes from being reminded of what it means to live life with authenticity. And the reason that that is so important.
The next time you get all caught up in the craziness of life, go listen to Steve.
Or even better, just print this quote of his out and hang it somewhere so you’ll see it everyday:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Thank you Steve Jobs.
[Ed. Note: Jason Leister is an internet entrepreneur, direct response copywriter and editor of “The Client Letter,“ the daily e-letter from ClientsSuck.net, where he helps independent professionals create success. You can contact him via his website at JasonLeister.com.]