“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.” Steve Jobs
I don’t know what the future has in store for me.
Oh, I may think I know my future in the shorter term but even those plans can be changed in instant. You know how true that is for yourself as well. How many times have you been surprised by life? How many of your greatest joys, and most difficult sorrows, came completely by surprise?
You Can’t Connect the Dots Looking Forward
I love what Steve Jobs said about the impossibility of “connecting dots looking forward:” It can’t be done. Every strategy, every plan, and every desire is a moving target because the future consists of the unknown. For that reason, personally, I put my trust in the goodness and wisdom of God. For you it might be something else, but at the end of the day it you will have to trust in something.
This thought first came to me in 1990, after 6 years of being a minister. In June of that year, I told my wife and closest confidants that in one year I would no longer be a minister. I had no idea what I would do next. I just knew it would not be what I was doing currently in my job. And I fully trusted that some opportunity would come around.
So what happened? It was not until the following March that I received a phone call from a friend who informed me that Chevron was looking for external trainers. I had a decade of business management and years of public speaking behind me. I was a perfect candidate. Before one year had passed I had a new job. But it was a complete surprise. I trusted that God would provide some thing and he did.
Results of Letting Go and Trusting
That was followed by the birth of a son, then jobs as a baseball coach, a trainer of business people, a facilitator of strategic planning, an Executive Business Coach, an online presence with blog and podcast, and now the vice president of an NGO, Wells of Life. None of those emerged by means of a long-range plan, but instead by what felt like happenstance. The dots could never have been connected before the events, although they easily connected afterward. One event led directly to the next, in spite of my inept forecasting.
There is a saying in the Book of Proverbs, “The mind of man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” It requires trust that something worthy will appear before me and then I have a choice whether nor not to pursue it.
The One Thing You Can Plan For
As a life planner I have come to believe that I really can plan on only one thing. The one thing I can plan is my character and internal attributes; kindness, care, integrity, and faith in something greater than myself. And what remains with my physical jobs or duties is where the art of trusting comes into play.
Quoting Steve Jobs again, “This approach [trust] has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” It also makes for a most exciting life, because there is no way I could ever have come up with my activities that have made up my life—a life worth living. Life is one surprise after another, intermingled with everyday consistency of acceptance and love.
And so I wonder: How has trust in something bigger than yourself impacted your life? Please write me in the comments section and let me know. I am most curious.
NOTE: You may want to listen to a podcast on this subject with Taryn Voget titled “Let Go and Trust Life.”
The Future Consists of Trusting
Something Will Come Next
Photo courtesy of XXX at istockphoto
9 thoughts on “You’re Gonna Have to Trust Something”
Charlie, I just came out of prayer and silence related to discernment, wisdom, strength, and courage when your blog of trust immediately popped up. My life has been so blessed with God’s dots (to include hardships) that together have led to serving the Lord in ways never never imagined. Glad Wells fo Life has come into your life and will continue to pray for all the lifes it touches.
So good to hear from you Joe. I like what you said about “God’s dots.” A great way for me to look at trust. I wish you all the best in your unchartered future. Trusting in the goodness!
Whoa..that was good Charlie. Perfect timing for
me personally. There you go, impacting my life again! lol
Thanks Steve. I know it’s been a challenging journey for you, but trusting in God is one of the best ways of facing that challenge. Keep it up!
Thank you Charlie for the post.
As someone not in a theist cultural environment(China), it’s harder to have that ‘trust’ in something. Growing up in an environment which has no such “bigger thing” except money, I find it hard (if not impossible) to trust a concept that there is a God or ‘universe’ who has its own consciousness and also sees me and cares me. Of course with such a secure psychological foundation, one can go about living feeling safer and less anxiety, and objectively achieve more results in a positive mindset. When facing the existential fact (I, one of human beings, exist, here), I feel that the ‘something’ that Jobs mentioned —destiny, life, karma—or “God’, or ‘universe’, all like different narratives to get through life.
That’s why I cringe everytime I hear phrases like ‘change the world’ or ‘impact people’s lives’ being used so casually and think to myself, “they must feel so confident about their intention and their underlying belief foundation.”
So it’s like stuck in the middle, as I can’t neither trust my own little self nor trust a “bigger narrative” that I am not embedded in. Now in my 30s, I can’t force myself to a narrative of a ‘bigger being out there’ in spite of the existential anxieties and I feel very scared about this absence of narrative.
I don’t know why I’m leaving this long comment, but I do know I love your show, especially those episodes you just talk with Paul or Terry. great podcast.
Thank you for you candour Danny. I’m pretty sure I understand where you are coming from. Within an existential framework there is no need for God. I think of it this way. It’s called the teleological argument for God. Basically it’s the belief that the Cosmos did not come into being as a freaky accident from somewhere. This argument believes there must have some kind of intelligence that formed the whole thing AND with a purpose. I’m in that camp. My “intelligence” is God and I must trust in the goodness of that Creator to get me through the day.
Fell free to email me t firstname.lastname@example.org
thank you Charlie for the reply. I get what you mean. I have an assumption that on the most basic level, we are all just trying to give ourselves the ultimate reasons to the question “why should I keep living on?” Since it is an instrinsic desire for people to be alive as long as possible, we then have to explain this unexplainable desire, to justify this unjustifiable fate of wanting to living on. Then come the big words like “meaning of life’, ‘purpose’, ‘hope’, ‘calling’, but don’t they all look like answers we try to come up with in order to answer that question unconsciously? Does it all boil down to “which one serves me best in satisfying that question AND fulfilling its job of keeping me alive as long as possible?”
Sorry if I get too metaphysical and thank you for you time for reading this 🙂
Danny. I think your first question regarding finding a reason to keep living has been wrestled with by nihilists for ages. But I find many good reasons not to just go on living but to go on living “with intention.” Intention sheds a whole new light on meaning and purpose. For instance my intention is to follow Aristotle’s admonition that the purpose of life is to “contribute to the value of society.” I resonate deeply with that. I find that my purpose is to to make a difference in the lives of other people. I do that through 4 ambitions: learning, creating, loving and serving. If I am in that zone I am golden. Also regarding your comment on “living as long as possible” is a most poignant question. CS Lewis calls death The Great Intruder–we were not created to die, therefore death is an intrusion into the intentions of the Creator. For that reason we are all hard wired to not understand death. This, for me, is where theology comes into play. And I therefore believe strongly in some sort of life after death. Just thinking.
Hi Charlie, thank you for your time to comment back. Appreciate that really.
I think I’m not totally in the nihilism realm (although maybe few steps away), and I can feel there is an indescribable irrational feeling at the core of me that refuses to negate the life experience and throw in the towel and call it a pointless game towards death. Maybe I need to find out what that little voice is.
Thanks for sharing your personal values with me. I wish one day I could be in the zone you’re in, with the wisdom you’ve had. The gap between the current me and that is elusive and very personal. I’ll think about your words a lot.