By Raju Mandhyan
THE late Steve Jobs, almost four decades ago, dropped out of college after he found no value in the lessons and felt that all of his working-class parents’ savings were being wasted on college tuitions. He had no idea what to do next but he hung around the campuses of Reed College for the next eighteen months. In those months he attended any and all classes that appealed to his yearning for learning rather than the ones he was required to. Reed College was known for its calligraphy classes and Steve was unconsciously drawn to the beauty and the creativity of the craft. Though his actions at that time made no proper sense to himself, seventeen years later when he built his first Macintosh, everything that he had picked up in those eighteen months went into what still makes the Mac a computer for people with a creative twist.
Sometimes, the choices we make do not make immediate sense and do not have logical answers, but there are unconscious resources that we own and unknowingly employ. And, the wisdom or the fallacy of these choices can only be measured in hindsight. Or, as Steve Jobs puts it, “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.” A principle of neurolinguistics that I want to put across from this perspective is that “In any situation a person makes the best choices with the resources currently available to him.”
When we do make choices, after doing the math, after doing the permutations and combinations, these choices are really based on our resources at a given time and a given moment. And, these resources are not just the physical, the financial, and statistical, but also mental, emotional and spiritual. All these put together, to those with a certain sense of alacrity, can be termed as acute foresight. Not many can claim to have this heightened sense of clarity and again the wisdom and the fruitfulness of these choices and this heightened sense of clarity can only be appreciated in hindsight.
So, make those decisions now and make them with whatever data and information you have now! The longer you hold off making decisions and making those choices, the staler your resources become. In most all cases our gut does get involved and if your choices are ethical and mean no harm to man or nature, chances are, they will turn out to be correct and fruitful.
This also brings me to another point about making choices. They need to be in alignment with what is referred to in neuro-linguistics programming as “ecology.” The decisions you make not only have to be good for you but also good for the neighbor, the community and nature. If not, someday they will surely backfire on us, like the aggressive industrial growth and abusive development of the past are now backfiring on us through landslides, meltdowns and tsunamis. The decisions we made decades ago, in spite of the gnawing guilt that we were abusing some elements of the system, are now hitting back at us.
Thankfully, our collective conscience has wisened up and we are now taking into consideration not just one bottom-line of economics but also ethics, social emotions and the environment. We have learned that these four bottom lines put together create long-term corporate sustenance.
Steve Jobs’s decision to quit was made with two measurable pieces of information: one, the financial pressure of his studies was hard on his parents, and two, that his studies were providing him with no value. But somewhere within his internal resources there was conviction and curiosity that told him that success lay elsewhere, outside structured schooling. The decision he took was in harmony with “ecology” even though there was ambiguity about the outcome.
Whether in business or in life, take many decisions and act upon them. In time, all the subtle elements of your decision-making muscles will strengthen and you will accumulate more wins than losses.
Raju Mandhyan is an author, coach and speaker.