“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.” – Steve Jobs
The above quote comes from Steve Jobs’ Stanford address in 2005 – and it’s something you may have heard before. The dots in our lives can only be connected looking backwards, but the events of our lives are also what tie together to take us to where we are today – and these join together to make a significant impact on our lives. Ever since we first heard that quote, we have always wondered if it is possible to engineer our own “dots”, to “manufacture serendipity” if you will.
To explain this we are going to borrow 2 terms from The Power of Story – turning points and tipping points.
Turning points are the dots in our lives. They are events or things that happen, which can be positive or negative, but they are the fabric of the stories in our lives. How we think about our turning points changes how we feel about our life stories. As pointed out though, we often don’t notice turning points until after the fact.
Tipping points are just like turning points, but they are turning points that have accumulated a certain amount of momentum or “critical mass” behind them – they literally “tip over” the story that we’re living in and open up a new chapter or phase of our life.
And it turns out that by using this idea of turning points and tipping points, we can manufacture serendipity to some degree, and it operates as something of a paradox:
We can’t tell if something is a dot/turning point until after the fact – but we can do things and take action to generate as many significant turning points (and tipping points) as possible.