“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was brilliant. And I disagree with him on this.
I think we can connect the dots looking forward and backwards.
And we can do more than trust the dots to connect in the future.
We can act on dots to create a better future – for ourselves and for others.
Here’s what I mean.
We’re being sent dots all the time.
Dots are experiences, opportunities, ideas and individuals.
Our role is to pay attention to them and look for patterns.
We’re supposed to collect the dots, connect the dots, and act on the dots.
When we do, pictures emerge. Pictures that make sense.
Remember those “Connect the Dots” coloring books we had growing up?
Each page had a random collection of numbered dots. The goal was to connect them. When we did, a picture emerged. Voila! It’s a cat. It’s a cloud. It’s a car.
I think the same thing happens in our life when we connect “dot thoughts.” A picture emerges that wasn’t clear before, that all of a sudden makes sublime sense.
For example, two years ago, Inga Canfield introduced me to a writing colleague Kristen Moeller.
Kristen found out I was visiting Boulder asked if I knew Erin Weed, who runs a speaker training company called Evoso. I didn’t so Kristen introduced us.
Erin and I had a delightful connection and have stayed friends. Last month, she got in touch with a question.
When I emailed Erin back, on impulse, I added a sentence saying, “I’ll be back in Boulder this summer. Know anyone who’s looking to rent near Wonderland Lake Park?”
Erin got back five minutes later to say a good friend – a fellow speaker/author – had a place near Wonderland Lake Park and was looking for a tenant.
What are the odds, right?
I immediately followed up (dots have a window of opportunity, we’re supposed to act on them in the moment as soon as they come to our attention) and connected me with her friend, Debra.
Debra Silverman and I hit it off. Now I’ve got a wonderful new friend (and simpatico professional colleague) and a marvelous place to stay this summer, right where I hoped to be.
You can’t make this stuff up.
You can only pay attention to the dots and honor them when they show up.
In particular,“dot thoughts” that come to us out of the blue. As in, “Add a sentence to the end of your email asking Erin if she has a rental referral.”
We’re supposed to act on “dot thoughts” even if they don’t make sense. Especially if they don’t make sense.
Because “dot thoughts” aren’t coming from logic, they’re coming from a sixth sense.
You can call these “dot thoughts” anything you want. Providence. God. The Universe. Divine inspiration. Gut instincts. Angels. God winks. Nudges.
I think they are our best future meeting us halfway.
One of the most important lessons learned form my Year by the Water is that when we honor and act on dot thoughts, kismet shows up.
Or what I like to call SerenDestiny.
SerenDestiny is a charmed life where the light is on in our eyes because we’re connected with congruent individuals and activities.
I have a theory about this.
We’re not in this alone.
It’s hubris to think we’re the only ones creating and/or controlling our destiny.
Here’s what crystallized my clarity about this.
I was watching a TV interview with security consultant Gavin deBecker, author of The Gift of Fear.
Gavin told the reporter that he makes it a practice to debrief people who have been assaulted, hijacked or kidnapped.
His first question to them is, “Did you have any warning?”
Guess what they all say? “I knew something was wrong.”
But the vast majority allowed their intellect to over-ride their instincts.
They didn’t see anything “wrong” so they dismissed their fears.
They thought, “It’s broad daylight. There’s no one around” or “I’m in an armored car with bodyguards. What could happen?” and over-ruled the sixth sense that was trying to protect them.
As he described these instincts that warn us when something’s about to go wrong, I thought, “Doesn’t it also make sense that we have instincts that warn us when something’s about to go right?
If we have a sixth sense that alerts us to dissonance, don’t we also have a sixth sense that alerts us to resonance and congruence?”
I believe our instincts and intuition have our best interests at heart.
Just as they alert us to individuals, ideas, and activities that are “wrong” for us, they also alert us to individuals, ideas and activities that are “right” for us.
When we honor our resonant sixth sense alerts, we are led to congruent people and opportunities we would not have met or experienced otherwise.
So, what’s the point?
If you want a life that transcends what you think it can be, what you can logically make it to be, start looking for congruent dots, start acting on resonant dots.
When you act on “dot thoughts” that nudge you to connect with this person, write out this idea, act on this opportunity, seek out this experience, a picture will emerge.
A picture of a charmed life that is better than you could have thought up yourself.
A life of SerenDestiny where you’re connecting with congruent individuals, experiences and opportunities that create a life that just keeps getting better and better.
Because you’re not doing this alone. You’re dancing with life.
So, yes, Steve, we can connect dots looking backwards and forward.
I met Inga, who connected me with Kristen, who connected me with Erin, who connected me with Debra, who connected me with this divine new home. I am grateful for those dots.
Now it’s time to do my turn. To connect those dots looking forward. To do my half to thank the other half.
I can do that by initiating and introducing dots to others.
By sending dots – opportunities, ideas, individuals and experiences – to other people so they can create a future that’s better than they could have imagined.
Collecting, connecting and contributing dots creates a rising tide raising all involved.
It’s a way to do our part and to become a part of a congruent circle of life.
And yes, we can do this in our personal life and in our professional life.
In our personal life, instead of waiting for opportunities to come to us, we can initiate interactions with simpatico individuals and align with opportunities that will create a better quality of life for all involved.
In our professional life, instead of being passive, we can proactively envision and initiate connections with and for clients and colleagues.
Starting today, keep your antenna up. Look around. What dots are trying to get your attention? How will you honor and act on them to set your SerenDestiny in motion?
How will you honor what is being contributed to you – and gift it back by creating and contributing dots to others?