The famous Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford made the line “The dots always connect backward” famous. I love the line and have found it to be true. There’s just one thing I’d add – we have a responsibility to create dots today that we will be able to connect tomorrow.
I have thought about this line many a time over the past few years. There are so many instances when I’ve looked back at a piece of work I did ages ago and have seen it pay forward in ways I would never have imagined. This has especially been the case with side projects. I learnt video editing for a talk show side project in university. Naturally, I became the de-facto creative video editor in the first couple of years at the consulting firm I worked with. I tried reaching out to authors and venture capitalists I admired and have continued to learn tremendously from those relationships. There are many examples at work – the skills I’ve picked up in the past have nearly always come of use.
So, yes, the dots always connect.
But, phrasing it that way seems to let us off the hook just a bit. It seems to absolve us of the responsibility to do something about it now. And, I think that’s because of the implicit assumption – that we have taken the responsibility to create the dots today that we will connect tomorrow.
So, enjoy the feeling of dots from the past connecting. But, every time you experience that wonderful feeling, create a new dot today that you’ll enjoy connecting tomorrow. Take initiative. Build something. Or invest in your learning and share that learning.
Create dots to connect.