Continuing in the vein of inspiring leaders of our time and of my sector, my earlier thoughts on Bill Gates’ Think Week, have run on to Steve Jobs’ comments on some of his approaches to business and the insights into his success with Apple.
One of Steve Jobs’ quotations which resonates with me is, ‘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’.
This got me thinking about how in life and in business, we are much more frequently encouraged to look forward, not to look back. There are strong echoes of Bill Gates’ practice of reflection and review in Steve Jobs’ words.
In our culture, we believe that to be a motivated, positive, empowered individual, we should be forward-looking, not looking back and pondering a great deal. We often hear of successful people saying, ‘I’ve never looked back …’ from the point at which their success began. Yet here we have two of the biggest success stories in corporate history, espousing the practice of doing a good deal of looking back.
Like everyone in business, I do look back, of course; I review and assess my business’ performance and progress at the usual landmark times, like the end of the financial year, the end of the calendar year, and so on. To my mind, though, that is not what these leaders were talking about. When I conduct my routine reviews, I am usually looking at specific data, rather than considering a wider, holistic view and I usually conduct my reviews at times of incredible time constraint when there are many other pressing deadlines due for the end of a financial or a calendar year. That’s a far cry from the sort of consideration that Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates were giving their businesses.
Looking backwards to connect the dots which will connect to my future, makes perfect sense to me, especially now that I have more dots than ever to consider! Steve Jobs said it made all the difference not just to his business, but to his life. And that guy knew a thing or two!
Do you have a Look Back process you use? I’d love to hear it!