On 12th June 2005, Steve Jobs delivered a commencement speech at Stanford where he talked about connecting dots.
I won’t quote any of those lines in particular, but I hope everyone has seen/heard about them in some way or the other.
So what are these DOTS?
Dots are a unit of experience in a particular field.
Say you want to learn how to solve a linear equation
Before you begin solving the problem you need to be familiar with what linear equations are in the first place.
You don’t have to know everything about them, just a handful of dots should be enough to help you solve a few basic problems.
But if you want to solve complex problems you will need more dots related to solving those types of problems.
A measure of experience
They can also be stated as a measure of experience as we gain more dots with time.
To thrive in any field, we must first collect dots related to that field
Most jobs need you to have a minimum required set of dots before you begin working. Not having those will lead you to gain them while working, and that would make you slower because collecting dots requires time and energy.
How do you collect dots?
- Spend time and energy on any particular task and you have your dots.
- It is impossible to spend time and energy and not get any dots in return.
So in a way, neuroscientifically you can say dots are an output of neurons firing in our brain, and the more a particular set of neurons fire, the stronger the connections that they build become.
This brings me to my next point
How to connect dots?
As Steve Jobs put it
“…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward…”
I would state the same but I would like to reflect on a different perspective of connecting dots along with it.…
Some consider the ability to connect dots as intelligence/ Having more IQ.
Now I do partly agree with the intelligence statement, but not so much with the IQ as I have spoken a lot against IQ before and also about how anyone with a specific set of dots can ace an IQ test, which makes it useless to conclude anything along the lines of intelligence.
My different take on connecting dots
I feel in order to connect two dots, we must have a dot in the middle.
Which translates to connecting dots requires a different dot in the first place.
This is the first time that I am writing about this idea, so pardon me if you find all of this somewhat confusing.
The only way I feel I could explain this more clearly in the future is if I speak/write about it more often. I don’t know if just thinking along this framework will be enough to strengthen my explanation of it.
Your dots determine your future
Now, this is the interesting part of the blog where I write about how all our actions are based on the dots that we collect.
I don’t know if you all believe in having free will but I don’t and I believe knowing the fact that we don’t have free will is what ends up giving us greater control over our life.
Now coming back to how dots dictate our future
If you think deeply you will realize every major decision that you took this far is a result of the stories in your head. I am saying major because we don’t spend a lot of time on minor judgments, most of them are dictated by evolution.
Just like believing the story of money helps you trade in the market, believing the story of a college dropout who succeeded in his life helps you take bigger risks in life.
From where did ‘story’ come in the picture of dots?
A story is what binds these dots in a pattern that is easily fetchable by our brains.
Without a good story, the dots won’t stay there for long. Think of any good or bad experience and you will definitely find a nice story attached to it.
This is why collecting many arbitrary dots is sometimes a bad choice.
As they won’t connect as easily but I believe if we go a step ahead and collect even more we might end up acquiring a connecting dot which will create a synergy of two unusual types of dot and that is ladies and gentlemen what we call creativity.
To be continued…
This was my first topic-based blog ever since I started weekly blogging last year and I would like to write more of these.
I don’t know if the next one will be similar or different but I want to expand on the theory of dots a bit more and associate them with things like humour and love.
To find out what the next one will be you can subscribe below to my email newsletters which I send every Sunday along with a weekly blog.
Oh and also I will be making a lot of changes to this blog as time progresses to make it more easily digestible. So if this is the first time you are reading this bookmark it or add it to your pocket/Instapaper and revisit it sometimes in the future.