Collect the Dots

I just watched a clip of Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech. Whether you like Apple products or not (can we please not start an “I love, I hate Apple discussion”) you have to admit the man was an innovator, a game changer. I mean who doesn’t love Monsters, Inc.?

In this inspiring speech Jobs talks about connecting the dots, a phrase I love to use. I actually learned the concept first from my friend, Beverly who has a fondness for pointing out “connect the dot” moments.

Using Your Heart and Gut

To have dots to connect you’ve got to follow your heart and your gut. When I do that my choices don’t always seem logical. (Just ask my parents.) But when I follow my curiosity, when I stay with the thing that draws me, later I see the why of it.

Jobs talks about dropping out of Reed College and then dropping into classes there. The information he learned in a calligraphy class, information that at the time didn’t logically connect to a future job, ended up being valuable during the design of the Mac.

My parents thought I should be actively engaged in job search right after college graduation. My fellow social work graduates were getting jobs at child welfare, hospitals, etc.

But I wanted to return to job at a summer camp. I initially agreed to follow my parents prompting. After all they’d paid for college. But after a dream about working at camp I knew I had to return to work there.

That summer job was instrumental in getting my dream job which just coincidentally started right after camp. And that dream job of teaching and coaching and growing with at-risk girls taught me skills that I use in my business today.

As a business coach and educator, of course, I draw on my 20 years of owning a business, plus the business classes and coaching that I’ve had.  But just as often I draw on education and skills that don’t logically connect to running a business. Yoga, aromatherapy, energy work…

 What makes connecting the dots so important?

If we’re connecting the dots of our life, then we’re not connecting the dots of someone else’s life.

Our unique offering to the world is made up of all that we bring to the table. The fact that you’re an artist, you like ping pong, you cook the best tamales, your heart got broken… It all brings spice to your business, to the service you offer to the world. It informs how you offer the service, how you connect with your people and how they connect with you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the video and dot connecting.