Focus has been an important lesson for me these past 12 months. It has meant re-setting priorities and making tough decisions along the way. One–of which–was to set school aside to focus on getting my business through rough economic waters. For many years, I was able to balance school, work, and life; but when the economy took a turn for the worse and as my studies grew markedly intense, I knew that I had to make a choice–although, it was not an easy one for me to make. When we are feeling down, it is easy to get lost in the waves of emotion that often go with life’s’ disappointments. However…
I found a video that really put it all into perspective for me. It was a video of Steve Jobs giving a commencement speech at Stanford University. It reminded me that working towards a vision in life is worth fighting for. It means staying strong when the going gets tough, and not letting the years escape when there is so much to carry out to bring things back into balance. The most striking thing I heard him say was when he spoke about a calligraphy class that inspired greater things to come and ultimately brought our world to a new level of connectivity and communication. It shows how seemingly small inconsequential things can become the seeds of change for the future:
“Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, 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. Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart; even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.” (Jobs, 2005)
In order to change the future, we must start with our vision of life and then trace back to the first step that begins today. There will never be a way to predict an outcome. We can “what if” ourselves to death, but when it comes right down to it, there is no room for fear and doubt. There is no instant gratification when it comes making a positive difference in changing the context of our lives for the better. When the winds of change begin to call us, we can either answer it by recognizing that something is not right– and then do something about it–or we can take the path of least resistance accepting things as fate and settling into a life of mediocrity and unfulfilled aspiration. We can choose to live our lives as others would prescribe to us, or we can choose to find our own way. We can choose to pursue and live an extraordinary life, or we can procrastinate and fall asleep at the wheel letting the years escape us while rendering us lost ships in a world of uncertainty. It is totally up to us. We all have a choice, and no one can make this choice for us.
This is especially true for families who have struggled financially to make life a better place for themselves and for their future generations. It only takes one person to break the vicious cycle of generational poverty in their family line. It only takes one person to set an example for others to follow—proving that change can happen for the better. I believe Steve Jobs was such an example that we may learn from,
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (Jobs, 2005)
It all takes determination, perseverance, focus, and a deep sense of living a purposeful life. It means acknowledging what we must do, and then making the necessary decisions to make them happen and to make life better. It may mean that we lose some friends in the midst of transition, but at the same time, it may also mean that we discover who our real friends truly are— a treasure trove in itself.
Dare to dream. If we dare to follow the heart that lives within us all, then it will serve as our beacon of light to a better way of life. Anything is possible as long as we believe it is so.