One of the greatest sports quotes of all time belongs to Wayne Gretzky. It actually began as a lesson imparted to him by his father.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.
This could describe Steve Jobs and Apple. Steve wasn’t the type of person that just showed up to the party; he saw the potential in the idea and created the bigger, better party two blocks down the street.
Yet, even his own words contradict this to some degree.
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. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.
This is life as a creative in a nutshell. Whether an artist or filmmaker or entrepreneur, every day is a contradiction.
I highly doubt Mark Zuckerberg’s original vision for Facebook was to get everyone online. He just created a platform that allowed friends to connect. Eventually, he connected enough of the dots to realize the true potential of the website he started from his dorm room. From there, his story become more clear.
You can often feel like you don’t have a voice unless you have something brilliant to say. Sometimes, the stories that connect the dots are just that – stories. Sometimes, even co-founders can’t agree on the origin story of their product.
If you are compelled to create, then create. It’s ok if you don’t know what your end goal is from the outset. Maybe you don’t even know what a puck looks like, much less where it’s going to be. If you have something to say, your voice will develop. You will be able to connect to dots, eventually.
The important thing is that when you have a burning desire inside to create, others can feel it, too.
Creating is as complex as life itself. Take your ability to create, and say something you care about. That should be what fuels you, and is what will allow you to look back and see the big picture, the logic behind your choices. It doesn’t have to make sense at the time. Andrew O'Hagan put it best, “Responsible behavior in an artist is like modesty in a stripper: unbecoming, dispiriting and not at all what you signed up for.” Don’t worry about your narrative, your brilliant story that will be a book, and later made into a movie.
Create. Make people feel something. You can connect the dots later.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Better than anyone, Maya Angelou sums it up in a single sentence.