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Lesson #1: Connect The Dots
Jobs believes that everything happens for a reason and although that reason may be hard to see at the time, sometimes you need to just sit back and have faith that things will work out in the end. Trusting your own decisions is often one of the most difficult but necessary and rewarding experiences.
When Jobs enrolled in college at the age of 17, he did not know what he wanted to do with his life and with the expensive tuition at Reed, he was spending all of his working-class parents’ savings trying to figure it out. “I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out ok,” he recalls. “It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Dropping out of university allowed Jobs to stop taking the required courses and begin attending ones that he found more interesting. One of these was a calligraphy instruction class, where Jobs learned about serif and san serif typefaces, spacing between different letter combinations and about how to make beautiful typography. Jobs didn’t understand at the time how this might be helpful, but he decided to follow his interests nonetheless.
Ten years later, when Jobs and Wozniak were designing the first Macintosh computer, he remembered his calligraphy lessons. He decided to incorporate the fonts he had learned about into the Mac. “It was the first computer with beautiful typography,” says Jobs. “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.” While it was impossible to connect the dots at the time, in hindsight, Jobs says that everything became clear.
A similar experience occurred years later when Apple’s board of directors ousted Jobs from his position at the company. A clash of vision left Jobs unemployed at 30. “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating,” he recalls. For months, he struggled with his fate and began to feel like a very public failure. But, slowly, Jobs began to realize that although he was fired, he still had a passion for computers and so he decided to start over.
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” says Jobs. “It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Jobs went on to create NeXT and Pixar and eventually returned to Apple when it purchased NeXT.
“It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it,” says Jobs. “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”
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