Steve Jobs: Three Life Changing Story | Connecting The Dots

  • The first story is about connecting the dots.
  • Second story is about love and loss.
  • Third story is about death.

The icon may be gone but Steve Jobs has certainly left his mark – on an industry, a country, the world. By all accounts he was certainly the definition of visionary, & he seemingly found his own signature way of driving execution at Apple Inc. There’s so much that we can learn from him about leadership. However, the story that stands out to me as I’ve read accounts of his life is this one he told in his graduation speech at Stanford in 2005:

“Because I had dropped out [of college] and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif & san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, & I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. & we designed it all into the Mac. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward, when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.”

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

While most of the world marches to the drumbeat of required classes, standardized tests and lock-step career paths, becoming more narrow & linear along the way, one of the biggest innovators & job creators in our country made his success because he simply followed what he found fascinating. He gave himself permission to try new things & trusted somehow that his portfolio of interesting experiences would perhaps lead somewhere new & exciting. The Mac came from someone who had laid down lots of “dots” in his life, & found ways to connect them along the way.

I’ve seen many clients find great success, appearing very human and very authentic, and finding innovative answers, when they’re willing to connect disparate dots in their life to their work. It’s the hard-core scientist who supports a confused colleague through a poem he remembered from college, or the leader/musician who powerfully clarifies his role and vision for the organization by metaphorically saying he sees himself as the “conductor of the orchestra”.

While college and a degree(s) are likely a stock part of your resume, and you may not be inclined to quit your job to fulfill that long-held desire to be a celebrity chef or join an ashram, how can you intentionally create more “dots”, or connect the ones you’ve laid down, to find new possibilities in your work?

1) Engage in a creative practice. Find an activity that fascinates you and engages you in a new way – whether it’s taking a pottery class, flying airplanes, trying stand-up comedy or traveling to an exotic place — anything that requires that you get out of your comfort zone and find new ways to experience life. You never know where it may lead ten years down the road! And it’s all in the name of “work”!

2) Look for the next right answer. DeWitt Jones, a former National Geographic photographer is known for sticking with his shoot, even after he thinks he has “the” shot. When you think you (or your team) have “the” answer to a perplexing problem, or a visionary idea, don’t stop there-keep searching for the next right answer. Something tells me that Steve Jobs probably kept that creative conversation going beyond the first good answer, to find more dots to connect!

3) Find new connections in everyday life. Take two very unrelated ideas and see if you can find how they are related. Consider the latest intractable problem you’re facing, and just keep asking yourself very lightly throughout your day “how might this inform my thinking?” It could be as you’re reading the paper about the latest economic analysis of Greece, watching your son’s soccer coach run a practice, reading Dr. Seuss to your kids before bed, or seeing Les Mis at the Kennedy Center. How might each of those activities provide a new perspective on your situation?

Steve Jobs was certainly one-of-a-kind and his spirit of following his fascinations and trusting that the dots will connect is a legacy that continues to live on –for the sake of our economy and our humanity.

STEVE JOBS: Stanford Commencement (English Subtitles)

Life Changing Motivational Video For Success in Hindi

1. The first story is about connecting the dots. I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months… Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class… Ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me & we designed it all into the Mac. And since Windows just copied the Mac… If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do… 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.

Steve Jobs

2. My 2nd story is about love and loss. I got fired [from Apple]. During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, & fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene & I have a wonderful family together. I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. You’ve got to find what you love. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Steve Jobs

3.My third story is about death. I was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type that is incurable. [Later] I had surgery and I’m fine now. No one wants to die. & yet death is the destination we all share. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. When I was very young, there was an amazing publication called “The Whole Earth Catalog”. On the back cover of their final issue were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Steve Jobs

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