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In a previous post I referenced a commencement address Steve Jobs gave to students at Stanford University- find it here. During the speech Steve talks about how his successful life played out and the details/events of his life being the “dots”.  He explains that we cannot connect the dots of life looking forward but only looking back.  He gives a personal life example-

Steve initially attended Reed College for his undergraduate degree and it was an expensive choice.  His parents were not well off and their life savings were being liquidated via Steve’s education. This would be fine but Steve wasn’t loving college and wasn’t engaged in the classes.  So he dropped out.  After dropping out he was able to sit-in on certain classes that his required class schedule didn’t allow. He attended a calligraphy class that taught different type fonts, spacing between letters, and everything that made great typography great.

The class had no hope of practical value to Steve at the time but he loved it.  It wasn’t until 10 years later when Steve and his team were designing the Macintosh 2 that it came back to him. Steve and his team added different types of fonts and writing to the Mac 2 prior to release.  If Steve never dropped in on that class ten years prior, it is possible that computers would not have the wide array of fonts available to them.  (Thanks Steve J- this is Calibri type font)

If Steve tried to connect the dots looking forward he never would have attended that class. The point that Steve makes in his speech is that people can ONLY connect the dots looking backward.  Ironically, it is very easy to connect the dots when looking back.

In that regard I believe life is a journey that we cannot meticulously plan and make decision based on our thoughts of what the future will hold.  We should follow our hearts and proceed with the belief that the dots will connect in the future. Doors of opportunity open in the most astonishing and unpredictable ways and only to those that are willing to try different things by following their hearts.

As Mark Zuckerberg preaches at Facebook to all of his employees “the biggest risk is not taking any risks at all”.

Eric