Steve Jobs was the most quotable entrepreneur of our time, but his most remarkable speech was the 2005 Stanford University commencement address. And within this often-discussed address, Jobs's most important lines for entrepreneurs were these:
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.
Sure, entrepreneurs build their company with incomplete ideas, unproven arguments, and risky planning, but I like the bigger lesson he is arguing: patience and faith. Patience in that you won't see the answer right away, and faith that the answer will come to you if you pay attention.
There are a few ways I try to implement this strategy:
Know what you don't know.
It is incredibly easy to fill in the unknown areas with false facts. In fact, science has proved that your brain will automatically make connections and beliefs to help fill in your knowledge gaps. Accept and then remind yourself that there are certain truths you won't know until later. Otherwise, you aren't just making decisions on bad information, but are less likely to recognize good information when you finally come across it.
Know when you shouldn't move.
Today we wear busyness as a badge of honor, but moving at the wrong time can be deadly for your business. As startup expert Adam Grant recently said at TED, "First mover advantage is a myth." We actually can be stronger when we stop and wait for the right time to act.
Know when you should look backward.
Don't mistake looking back as being stuck in the past, as there is no way you can fully learn from your wins, challenges, and adventures without taking time to assess your decisions. Steve Jobs had a tough time reflecting in his personal life, but he was definitely looking back and connecting the dots on his career path -- and had an illustrious career to show for it.