“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. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
I first heard that quote by Steve Jobs back in 2005 or 2006 when I saw the YouTube video of his commencement address at Stanford. I still remember watching it that day up in my office in Batesville Indiana. I knew in an instant that he was speaking truth.
At that moment in my life, I was spending a lot of time and energy trying to connect the dots of my life looking forward. I was trying to “figure things out.” Trying to figure out what I should be doing and why I was put on this planet.
I was trying really hard. I was doing everything I could think of… except paying attention to what was right in front of my face. Oh… and except for simply enjoying each day as the gift it truly is. Oh… and except for actually looking inside myself for my own answers.
Over the past few years, I’ve grown up just a bit. I realize now that I’m never going to “figure it out.” And I don’t have to. Because my real task is to simply show up and be fully me. To follow my own path and be OK with that.
The “I’m never going to figure it out” thing might sound a bit fatalistic to the over achiever who wants to “make something of himself.”
To me, it’s about the most liberating thought I know.
You are not in this life to prove anything to anyone. You don’t need to “figure it out” so you can be somebody.
You just need to put one foot in front of the other and follow the path that’s been set out for you.
You will mess up. And you will fall.
There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s called life. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Because that’s how you learn.
And we are here to learn.
Major life events are always an opportunity. Because they break through, even if just for a split second, the craziness that is life. And in those briefest of moments, we catch a glimpse of what lies beneath the mind numbing amount of activity we endure each day.
But then life resumes and we forget the lessons of those moments. And we forget the feeling that comes from being reminded of what it means to live life with authenticity. And the reason that is so important.
The next time you get all caught up in the craziness of life, go listen to Steve.
Or even better, just print this quote of his out and hang it somewhere so you’ll see it everyday:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Thank you Steve Jobs.