“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. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.” - Steve Jobs
This quote is often shared around as an inspiring mantra for those wanting to pursue an big goal, dream or something inside their heart.
I absolutely agree with Steve Jobs as I've seen the dots connect in my own life often astoundingly and without notice as I continue to push, step by step toward work that feels right for me.
Yet I wonder how, in our very linear world that values instant feedback, incessant external stimulation and a desire to always 'know' the answer .. how are we training ourselves to follow this profound guidance?
The approach he is proposing requires patience, mindfulness, a deep connection and trust in our own intuition, and an ability to act and push forward bravely without knowledge that it will all come together.
I know how insanely difficult this is. I've been trying to take these leaps and bold moves, stretching myself further into areas I feel quite uncomfortable with, and often downright frightened to go. In the process I have been forced to re-wire my brain and attitudes over the course of seven years in an effort to learn how to hear myself, trust my gut, lean into discomfort, and to stop asking for the answer to present itself before I can make a move. It is a never-ending and continual process of persistence, grit and an ability to tune out the noise.
I know how much harder it is to do this work because of the prevalent messages of - do it all, now! ... where is the data to back that up? ... how many likes can you get? ... never be disconnected for a moment! ...
How can we embrace this concept in that kind of environment?
It's important to know what you're up against as you seek to do something new, deep or different. We can easily share inspiring quotes and messages, and feel excited about the concept of leaping into our dreams. Then when the excitement fades, we shy away from following through on our hefty goals ... or we second guess ourselves and stop a project because we feel scared of putting ourselves out there so vulnerably.
I know that feeling for sure; and I know that if I choose to slow down and take the big, scary moments one step at a time, I will move through them on to the other side. I've learned to turn down the volume of external guidance in my life and turn up the volume on my inner gut as guidance. And I've gotten cool with moving ahead even when there are no statistics to back me up.
If you're feeling a desire to go the 'connect the dots' route, I offer you a huge, double high five - and go FOR it! As you embark on your journey I urge you to accept that along the way you are going to have to really learn to trust your own voice, tune out the noise, and work through some very uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty and ambiguity .. which do not always feel good. If you understand that feeling scared and uncomfortable is okay, it is part of the process, then you can set yourself up for persisting through the tough moments.
If you choose to take up the challenge of embracing this mindset with a huge bear hug, then you will surely make something valuable happen in your life.
Founder of Mind Into Matter and lover of coffee, color, and passport stamps.