Do you ever wonder why you’re going through a difficult time? Why life has put you in the middle of the storm, or on the bottom of the pit, or left you stuck for an hour in the waiting room of the doctor’s office? Well, today I offer you a new way to answer: Just because you can’t see the reasons today, doesn’t mean the reasons aren’t there.
When Steve Jobs’ commencement speech he made in 2005 was making the rounds, I most appreciated how he was able to look at his past from such a positive perspective. Here is what he said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward,” said Jobs. “You can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” And when he looked back at the stops he made along his path of life, for instance—including dropping out of college and taking a caligraphy course—it became clear how he got to where he was. This is also a great way to look at our own lives today.
We may not know why the road is roundabout and rough, but when we get to our destination, the route that got us there becomes very clear. And looking at our past this way is a very useful tool to help us climb over tough hurdles in the future.
Try this: Look back at the dots of your life. See how they’ve led you to where you are today, and how you’re stronger, wiser, more capable, more resiliant, and more open to love because of the very path you struggled on. For example:
• That job folding sweaters at the Gap for your neurotic boss? That’s where you gained the skills to handle high-maintenance clients better than anyone else.
• That relationship that left you brokenhearted and distrustful for years? That’s where you gained the empathy to treat others as kindly as you do today.
• That art class you took in high school? That’s where you learned to think outside the box and work more creatively in every area of your life.
• That date who turned you down? That’s because you were meant for a love bigger and better than they could offer you, and it was the universe’s way of nudging you forward to find it.
When I review my life, I can now see clearly that every class, every job, every relationship and every experience played its part in making me who I am today, how I work today, and how I love today. The same is true for all of us. And that is why: When you don’t know why you’re going through a tough experience at work, in love or in life, trust that there is a reason. The dots are there. And when you reach the next pinnacle and look back, you’ll see clear as day how those dots connect and led you where you are.
“You have to trust in something,” Steve Jobs told those Stanford University graduates that day. “Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
The dots are there. Trust that they will connect.