Connecting the Dots

In a recent seminar I attended as a part of my training, I was in a discussion of how the present generation (especially when you are in your 20s and 30s) should act so as to become future leaders. The most persuasive advice I got is all in three words: Connecting the Dots (CTD).

1. 80/20 rule of the few lead-ers

Many of you might have heard of 80/20 rule aka Pareto principle of the vital few. Simply speaking, Sir Pareto proposed an approximate 80/20 rule presented in a lot of social phenomena, states that 80% effect is created by 20% of the causes.

In a specific context of an increasingly advanced society, it is said that 20% of us are the leaders who pioneer new ideas, pushing the status quo to a new level, reaching out to the unknown and making up 80% of the society’s wealth. Meanwhile, the rest 80% are the followers who depend on the innovation of 20% to survive.

“Many billionaires out there are building a huge asset with existing ideas. True! They are some of the followers. It’s wrong, however, to claim they could not survive with new ideas,” you might argue. --> Let me correct your misunderstanding this way: Those you are talking about should be one of the 20%.

I don’t think they are walking on the old roads and there must be twists or some. Basically speaking, a new idea is not something brand new. A new idea is by adding a bit more the new to the known that thousands of generations have built up. May you know this famous quotation by Isaac Newton:

“If I have seen further it is by standing on shoulders of Giants.”

Since we are talking about the Pareto principle, let me apply this to the ratio of the known and the unknown, say the innovation happens with 80% the known and 20% the unknown. Just to avoid any further misunderstandings, I think it is important to keep in mind that the unknown is not necessarily something absolutely unknown; the unknown can result from a combination of some known.

2. Connecting the Dots

Now, let’s start this section with a famous quote from Steve Jobs:

“You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

This is how his advice pops up in my mind

* To simplify the illustration, I draw the present as a 2D moving panel along the time axis. However, as you might question, yes, it should be a 3D moving space along the 4th dimension — time axis. Again, this is a simplified demonstration.

Imagine you are facing a challenge. The challenge might be a seemingly impossible task from your workplace, or it might be your intention to bring up something new.

At that crucial moment of your life, you would make the magic happens by connecting the dots, connecting the points of knowledge you have gained in the past, maybe from your social connections, news, books or work experiences. An educated random combination of the past known might be the most important key to open the door of the solution, the unknown, the innovation.

In my illustration, I bring those meaningfully known dots to the present, connect them. The solution is the shape in red. From the angle of the present panel, I am looking backward.

3. The 2Be - A strategy to learn

Apparently, it is impossible for us to look at the forward, looking at the future. The tiny red dots in my illustration are invisible. We don’t know what the future will ask us.

As a believer of hardworking-ism, I honestly tell you to extend your own knowledge. We don’t know what dots the future will take on its road. However, you will not hold a proportion of good luck unless you hold more dots in your pocket. “Be prepared.”

However, holding more dots does not guarantee a better chance of holding more meaningful dots. “Be selective.” It might not sound friendly to be selective, especially to intentionally select friends, information and work. I call all listed “input.”

Sadly, our brain is not designated to remember everything we met. Being selective is logically an essential strategy to deal with an endless amount of information.

Anyway, whatever approaches you are using to learn, “Be prepared” and “Be selective” might be two little pieces of advice I am proposing to you. Humbly speaking, the 2Be is my core guide to select the strongest and tallest Giant.