Connecting the dots looking backwards

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Steve Jobs said that it is easier to connect the dots looking back than looking forward. Such a true statement as I can see how it has helped me get to where I am today. For many years of my life I was trying to figure things out…trying to connect the dots looking forward so I could better understand my life and it was difficult. It seemed like there was no order to the path I was on and I was not even aware I was on a path. I kept telling myself…just keep moving forward and see where it goes. I was so focused on the dots looking forward that I did not take the time to glance back at the dots that were already crossed.

I can apply this to a personal journey. 5 years ago, I was not a blogger or writer! If you were to tell me that I would have a blog and a book published at this time, I would not have believed it. For many years I felt that there was a book in me but not the slightest bit of understanding on how it would come to fruition. So how did all this happen? How are the dots connected? In 2010, I created a very rough outline of a book because I felt that I had stories to share.

In Late 2011, I was able to do a TEDxSFU speech and putting my thoughts together, I felt that people around me had always told me how I could tell great stories. My talk was going to be about storytelling but my Co-op student Angel said something profound: “Sam, you tell great stories…how can I tell stories?” All of a sudden, I went into a reflective mode to try and understand my writing and how I could share with others about building and sharing their own stories. Out of this emerged the talk: Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary and I started to add content to my book.

A couple of months later, my wife asked me what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday in 2012. Her idea was a memorable blowout of a party but thinking about it, it was not my interest. Instead, I thought about my TEDx speech and why don’t I write about an entire year of reflection on turning 50 and call it Sam’s 50/50-2012. The idea was to blog about the extraordinary in the ordinary from January 1, 2012-December 31, 2012 and on January 1, 2013, list out my 50 most memorable experiences. Out of this emerged my first blog and I began to realize my story voice and that there were others interested in my story voice.

The puzzle piece that many have received and I have told them about the connections came out of the January wrap up party for my blog. I wanted to say and demonstrate how important the people in my life are so I started to hand out puzzle pieces and that has become part of my brand.

The 50/50-2012 provided some ideas and thoughts and then in April 2013, my new blog was launched (because so many said that I could not stop now) and I kept adding to the content. Finally in April 2014, the book was completed and launched! I sat there with the original copy in my hand and thinking back to those dots and how one thing led to another which led to another which eventually became this book. I could look back and see the dots very clearly now.

To date, my blog has had over 17,000 views in about 22 months. While I am not viral, that is still a lot for someone who has not really pushed things forward. About 3,000 puzzle pieces are scattered around the world and into the hands of those who I have shared with. The book sales are stagnant and one day I might be a best seller, but that was not my goal. My goal was to write a book. That I did!

I want you to take the time to look at your dots. Instead of trying to look forward, take some time to look back and see where those dots are and how they have guided you to where you are today. Appreciate the dots you have already laid out. Yes, there are more dots ahead of you but the more dots you understand and see the journey, the more it will help your journey moving forward. Let’s start connecting the dots looking back!

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