Steve Jobs was famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for his "reality distortion field," his ability to make other people believe the seemingly impossible was actually possible. 

But the first person he had to convince was himself.

Jobs believed more in his own talent, in his ability to learn and persevere and overcome obstacles, than he did in conventional wisdom, the status quo, and what other people thought.

And that meant he didn't wait until every plan was perfect. That meant he didn't wait until every Gantt chart was finalized. That meant he didn't analyze each and every step before he took it.

"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."

Jobs trusted that his intelligence, his intuition, and his experience would not only help him get where he wanted to go, but that they would also help reveal places he never knew he wanted to go. (After all, his line that "people sometimes don't know what they want until you show it to them" can also mean that sometimes we don't know what we want to be until we see it.)

Of course, you don't need to hope the dots you someday connect will put you on the Mount Rushmore of great entrepreneurs. You may "just" want to be part of the next wave, whatever that may be. You may "just" want to make a small change in your industry or profession.

Or you may want to achieve personal goals, big or small, that others think are impossible for you to achieve -- that maybe even you think are impossible to achieve.

In any case, connecting all of your dots doesn't start with getting other people to believe. It starts with deciding you will believe -- in yourself. 

And you can start doing that today.

After all, you don't have to wait for someone to discover you, to promote you, to give you a chance, to provide the right opportunity, to "choose" you. As Seth Godin says, you can pick yourself.

That's what Jobs did. That's what every successful person does. They say, "Why not me?" So try things. Take risks. Follow your intuition. Take a chance on yourself. Create plenty of dots.

Why? Because success is often the result of perseverance. When others give up, stop trying, or compromise their principles, the last person left is often the person who wins. 
Other people may be smarter, better connected, more talented, or better funded. But they can't win if they aren't around at the end.

Sometimes it makes sense to give up on ideas, projects, and even businesses -- but it never makes sense to give up on yourself. One thing you can always do is be the last one to give up. You may never be first, but you can always be last.

When you take chances on yourself and refuse to quit, you can also make what seemed impossible, possible.

And in the process you can create your own version of a reality distortion field, one that results in a series of dots that don't distort reality but that someday create a wonderful new reality -- especially for you.

Published on: Mar 13, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.