Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Connect the Dots...

I recently came across the Address by Steve Jobs, CEO of AppleComputer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005 at the university's 114th Commencement on Sunday 12th June 2005 in Stanford Stadium... I felt I could really relate to part of it, and so decided to post it here incase you haven't seen it.

"I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and hiswife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5ยข deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get onegood meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example:Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful,historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never droppedout, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college.But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.Again, 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."

Looking back on the few years that I've been on this planet, even I am able to "connect the dots" some of the worst experiences I had when looking back seem to have helped me be who I am today... (ok maybe not on the same scale as Steve Jobs by in my own way)

So now I'm giong to trust in God about this MBA and believe that whatever happens will be for the best. :0)

5 Comments:

Blogger Turtle Guy said...

back in the morning to comment... too much to read for my tired eyes!

6:17 am, June 07, 2006  
Blogger ipodmomma said...

well, it's morning here, and I can say this is fabulous, and trusting in God is the one thing that I personally know will never let one down.

love the bit about going backward... I look back and see how things that at the time made little sense worked into the 'bigger picture', and have to just marvel at the design of it all...

this was great! thanks for posting it... :)))

7:20 am, June 07, 2006  
Blogger Turtle Guy said...

ok... rested now...

What a neat read! It makes me think of the courses I've dropped - not that many mind you, but it was always in favour of a course I actually enjoyed and subsequently applied in some form or other to my life.

Whatever path we choose, we end up somewhere. WHether that "somewhere" is an experience, a pivitol point in our lives or an actual location, that somewhere becomes one of our dots, yes?

There are some who say "Don't think about the past" and perhaps connecting the dots is in some way thinking about what's past, but it's always good to map our progress so we can feel good about our accomplishments.

3:18 pm, June 07, 2006  
Blogger PRan said...

Wow, imagin being the crater of all these nice font faces. Well how proud cold he be looking back at what he cated.
Well, got to drop off somewhere...

7:41 pm, June 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site lots of usefull infomation here.
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2:49 am, July 21, 2006  

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