Introducing Collecting Dots - Documenting a 26-year-old's journey from employed to self-employed

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In a much loved speech Steve Jobs once said;

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.

I’ve always loved the sentiment of these words however feel we, as a society and across the generations, have interpreted it incorrectly.

I see two opposing interpretations:

  1. You can only connect the dots looking backwards…and therefore you have to look deep within yourself and your past to TRY to connect the dots
  2. You can only connect the dots looking backwards…and therefore you should continue to go through life with faith and trust that they will indeed connect in the future.

The latter is of course what Jobs meant by this, yet the former is perhaps what many of us have fallen victim to.

With a culture of early achievement, stories of young success, ‘wunderkinds’ and comparisonitus, it is common to anxiously and over-attentively attempt to connect the dots too soon, focusing on finding that one true ‘purpose’ or ‘calling’ rather than checking ourselves on what makes us feel alive - when are we in ‘Our Element’ (I’ll expand more in this in an article further down the line).

What is ‘Collecting Dots’?

Collecting Dots is a philosophy (if I can call it that) that I have been sharing over the last year through my writing, speaking and 1-2-1 coaching to promote greater confidence in individuals, help them to understand that they are on track, and provide peace in the knowledge you don’t have to have it all sussed out.

Collecting Dots is something we can do, and already do each day.

It is not looking at the past.

It is not looking too hard into the future,

It is the present.

Connecting the dots however is a retrospective activity.

It takes maturity, reason and a great number of ups and downs to arrive at a point where the dots do indeed connect.

Crucially, it takes the act of having dots collected in the first place, for the more dots collected, the more opportunity for future, more valuable, authentic and infinite connections.

What is the Collecting Dots newsletter?

In August I opted to take Voluntary Redundancy from the consulting firm I have been fortunate enough to start my career and spend the last 2 and a half years at.

I am now embarking on the journey of building a business and life around my values, strengths, passions, and curiosities.

This newsletter will document my journey.

You may have heard the trend in start-ups world known as ‘Building in Public’.

I’ll first be ‘Discovering In Public’ - you might be able to guess what will come next…

To aid my adventure, and in true Agile and Scrum manner, I am going to be running myself like a team, and in doing so managing my work and time using 2-week Sprints.

This newsletter will act as a summary of my previous sprint, a way of creating accountability in my actions, reflecting on what I have done, whilst at the same time offering some value to you, the reader. A quasi-show&tell-retrospective-debrief.

What am I, the reader, going to get out of it?

I was introduced to newsletters last year by a good friend and have found they offer an excellent way of gaining curated, tailored, intimate insights.

The start of a community built around people thinking and feeling in similar ways.

Collecting Dots will provide an anecdotal, educational, and perhaps even humorous 🤞 insight into the dots that I have uncovered and how they have helped shape where I am going, with the goal to entertain, educate and inspire you on your own discovery.

Each newsletter will take the following format:

💻What I’ve been up to…

How have things evolved over the last two weeks? What have I come against - ‘blockers’ - and how I’ve overcome these - ‘breakthroughs’. What are the key things that I have achieved, or, at least helped me to grow.

✍️What I wrote…

I’ll share some of my writing. This may be on a topic that I have come across before and been eager to write about, a book review, thoughts on a documentary, trend, or whatever else might come up.

📚 What I read…

I’ll share a few links to what I’m reading, whether this is a book, another great newsletter I subscribe to or an article that peaked my interest and provided some food for thought.

🦋What inspired me

This might well be the spot to see the inner workings of my brain; what made me think, challenged me, gave me confidence and acted as an inspiration tool. It may well be something I saw on a walk, or listened to on a run.

🔦Spotlight on… [insert name here]

I am fortunate to have a huge number of friends, family, ex-colleagues and kind-strangers now friends who I admire. This will be a spotlight on one of them - sharing some insights into what they’re up to, perhaps a business, side project or personal passion to help my network meet each other and grow in an organic and intimate way whilst I can’t make the intro’s in person.

Rounding things off

Whether you’re starting your own business or well underway to your first billion, happily thriving in a company or perhaps thinking about a path elsewhere, this newsletter aims to share what I have found useful and the dots I have collected which may in turn help you on your journey.

Written by
Ross Power