Connecting the Dots

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It’s amazing to reflect on the journey of life once in a while, to ponder the process, the peaks and valleys of going from point A to point Z … whether it’s an artistic journey, a career pursuit or just life in general. In the weeks following Steve Jobs’ death, it’s been extremely interesting to read a lot more about this revolutionary man’s life and career (in fact there’s a newly released authorized biography, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, available now).

Of all the things I read, the most interesting — and poignant — was Jobs’ commencement address to the 2005 graduates at Stanford University, especially taking into consideration Jobs didn’t graduate from college. The first story he shared with the crowd of young hopefuls was about connecting the dots. After dropping out of college six months in, he took up a calligraphy class out of sheer interest in learning about serif and san serif typefaces, spacing between combinations and overall what makes typography great.

Jobs said at the time, that calligraphy class had no practical application in his life. Ten years later, however, it came back to him when he designed the first Macintosh computer. Had Jobs not dropped in on the calligraphy class, “the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts,” he said. And as we all know, Jobs’ innovation and vision changed the entire world.

Interesting to think what would have been if Jobs’ parents insisted he stay in college or if they had given him grief about tinkering around with the idea of creating a new technology with Steve Wozniak in their garage when he was 20 years old. I’m sure Jobs had no idea at the time what massive impact he would have on the world, and not just the realm of personal computers!

“You have to find what you love,” Jobs said in his speech. But even in the midst of doing what one loves, there will be hard times (remember when Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he created?) that don’t often make sense, but hindsight always shows the ways the dots connect. Jobs said being fired from Apple freed him to enter one of the most creative periods in his life. And there is no doubt about his creative genius.

As parents, it’s important to encourage our children to find what they love, whether it’s an artistic pursuit, sports, hobbies or future vocation. And when they find it, do your part to inspire them to be innovative, to think creatively into the future, and by all means, to push the envelope. The most remarkable creative minds in the world are the ones who don’t allow themselves to be confined.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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