Distinguish Yourself #215 – Create the right building blocks along the way

Think Lego blocks. I am sure you at some point in life you have played with lego blocks or something similar to that.

You pick up a box of lego blocks and with less than hundred lego blocks you can design dozens of interesting structures.

The more innovative you are, the more interesting structures you can create.

Building blocks creates the possibilities for creation.

The possibilities are endless.

The pre-requisite – you need to have the right lego blocks on your hand when you need them.

Your life is no different – knowingly or unknowingly you create a set of building blocks in your life. They may not all be the right ones. When you are conscious about this fact and choose to create the right building blocks, you are assured of future magic.

Steve Jobs talks about this in his famous Stanford Commencement Speech of 2005. Here is a quick excerpt from his talk about the topic of connecting the dots

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. 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. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Having the right building blocks are what will give you the capacity to connect the dots in the future.

When you are young, people may not trust you with building a structure but nobody stops you from creating building blocks. You can create as many building blocks as possible without even getting attention from anyone.

A good relationship can be a building block

A powerful obligation that might result in a reciprocation can be a building block

A good blog post that provides real value is a building block

A great presentation that moves the audience is a building block

Think of anything that will increase the current or future capacity of someone in a meaningful fashion as a building block.

Creating the right building blocks is an investment in your future capacity.

Have more building blocks and you clearly have an unfair advantage in the future.


Photo Courtesy: Oce_Technologies