Steve Jobs, Connecting the Dots, and Mentors

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You may not be able to “connect the dots” of the future for yourself, but does this mean it is not possible? If you want to move quickly in your career, keep in mind that mentors often already have a full picture of where your headed, because they have “been there”. They know what the dots are and how they connect. An excellent mentor also knows you well enough to see the dots as they personnally apply to you.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, gave a well-known Commencement Address to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University.

One of the stories he told was “Connecting the Dots”. It related to how dropping out of college gave him the freedom to “drop in” on a calligraphy class, and how 10 years later his love for calligraphy made its way to the first Mac. He said:

“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 something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

Because I have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), I have a lot of problem with my “dots”. It is comforting to know that even geniouses like Steve Jobs could not connect their dots ahead of time. No one else could have made that connection for Steve Jobs when he took that class.

However, there is a level at which we can get help with our dots, which is really useful. My experience has shown me that the “something” to “trust in” can be a mentor.

Why? Because my mentor has a vision for my capabilities, my future, and my success that I cannot see. He sees the dots as already being connected; it is completely clear. I see them scattered all about.

He has been guiding me to do certain things in a certain order, which I sometimes resist, because i don’t understand how it all relates. Often tremendous opportunities came together, all because I trusted in my mentor’s vision, and followed his instruction. In true Mr.90DayGoals fashion, he’ll say “It’s all part of the Plan.”

The bottom link is that, the only way to connect the dots looking forward, is to have these things in place:

1) A Vision or Goal that you need to do

2) A Mentor who can see the dots before you do

3) A large enough “Why” to go on, even when you cannot see the next step.

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