I’m sure you have heard and been inspired by Steve Job’s exceptional speech at the commencement of Stanford’s batch of 2005. It created the greatest stir when spoken and one of the highest circulated emails of that time! It continues to be a life changing speech for many. I am one such person who only recently re-deciphered it and yes, the shoe fits!
“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.”
This philosophy (not surprisingly!) fits the breed of Entrepreneurs the best!
How I am connecting the dots looking back
Just as all lives do, I have had my fair share of ‘floating’ or simply ‘existing’- not ‘living’. In the earlier stages, I floated through- doing things I did not enjoy or learn from. But I did them. I did not think they were ‘helpful’ to create a future for myself. On the face of it, they were activities keeping me busy for the moment but deep inside they felt meaningless. Today, I understand that each of my simplest activities were a part of the larger plan! The larger plan that I live each day! At every difficult crossroad, I think of this.
Entrepreneurs: Everything will make sense at the end
Entrepreneurs are definitely struck by the relevance of this philosophy immediately. Entrepreneurs are highly motivated but also equally fickle minded and instinctive! They may take a liking to a so-called and perceived ‘absurd idea’ and devote their energies into its fulfillment. They may take on multiple tasks at a time, unrelated and of no certain ‘use’ to building a concrete footing into the future. But as they say ‘..everything will make sense at the end’. Of course, for an entrepreneur, the end is just another beginning. This is why we celebrate milestones. For entrepreneurs, milestones are a means to connect the dots looking back.
On the 10th year of my businesses venture, I will be sure to look back and connect the dots- understand how my instinct and karma facilitated what I have achieved!
Planning too much: Is it the wrong approach to building your future?
Firstly, I meet young people devoted to a ‘plan’. A common trend (or a generic plan-of-action) being followed by many Indian youth is to study Science/Commerce/Law, clear entrance tests into the best management schools of India, get employed by a multinational and continue a career abroad. This plan is packed, airtight and is not flexible at all. The biggest fault by far is not that aptitudes and interests of the young ones are being ignored but the fact that it is NOT flexible! There is not an inch of space to edit these plans. These young people will sooner or later encounter obstacles or face problems when destiny takes its course.
Don’t close doors to the future you deserve
If this is the approach, then there’s an attempt to connect the dots looking forward. We have to realize X may not always lead to Y. It may lead to A or N or Z. Sometimes A, N and Z are way, way better than Y, only you don’t know it because you have fixated on Y. Be open-minded because the wrong approach will leave you desolate, stuck in the wrong job.
Remember what Steve Jobs had to add:
“So, there is a larger meaning to everyone’s past and current situation – sometimes happy and sometimes difficult. Yet, it is all a run-up to something larger, something yet to happen”
While a plan in place is an asset, I highly recommend allowing a few tweaks as different opportunities and thoughts come! A missed opportunity of your dreams may lead to a whole new sphere which you never imagined.
No matter how ‘meaningless’ your current goal or job seems, some day you will look back and understand that it still benefitted you. You could meet an employee who wants to invest in a business with you, or, the job may develop your personality, or, you may learn technical skills which may help you take the next step- the possibilities are endless.