Was Steve Jobs Right About Connecting The Dots?

Relmi Damiano
10 November 2021
2 min read

Our brains are exposed to about 34 gigabytes of information per day.1 Some of these experiences, memories, or ideas are inevitably lost forever in the vaults of our minds, but some of these moments do leave a real memory that we can recall at will. Think of these moments, the ones we can remember, like dots in the past. When we try to form a picture of all the things we have experienced, we can connect these dots. But, how is this possible if we can’t see the dots we have yet to create?

When we think about the brain, most people have a vague understanding of how we form and store memories. However, the details about how the brain does this are usually limited to experts, which is exactly how most things in life work. When we need a surgeon, we see someone who has the knowledge and experience. When we need a mechanic, we do the same. When we want to really discuss the mechanisms within the brain, we need people who study neuroscience.

Part of the problem with the brain (and understanding how it works) is that it is so incredibly complex. What exactly should we measure as we try to figure out what is going on? Many scientists believe we should track spikes or firing neurons. But, that only tells part of the picture. We also need to record dysfunction in the brain, such as problems with communication or synaptic growth.2

Trying to figure out what happens in our brains without having all the information is the same as trying to connect the dots in our own lives. We need bits of information about the brain to draw the whole picture. We need to be able to look back at our actions and thoughts and ideas to draw a picture of ourselves. 

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. 

Steve Jobs

Finding the Dots & Then Connecting Them

Steve Jobs spoke at the 2005 commencement of Stanford University, where he discussed the idea of the dots. He explained how his working-class parents were using all their money to get him through college. He decided it wasn’t worth it and he stopped taking formal classes. Instead, he dropped in on those he found interesting. 

He attended a calligraphy class, which would later give him the inspiration to create fonts on his new computer. If he hadn’t dropped out, he probably would never have found that one class on that particular day. For him, the dots lined up just right to help create what we now call Apple. He was able to connect these different experiences into a cohesive story. If you know the story of Steve Jobs, you know he was initially fired and then rehired years later to revive Apple into a megacorporation. 

When we think about our own experiences (our ‘dots’), we cannot possibly connect them if we only look forward because they simply aren’t there. Those moments have not occurred yet. But, we can look back and know those dots helped us get to where we are now--and realise they can help guide us as we go forward. 

Are you good at connecting different concepts and recognising patterns?

Citations:

  1. Royon M. The Human Brain is Loaded Daily with 34 GB of Information, https://www.tech21century.com/the-human-brain-is-loaded-daily-with-34-gb-of-information/ (2009, accessed 7 November 2021).
  2. Devor A, Bandettini PA, Boas DA, et al. The challenge of connecting the dots in the B.R.A.I.N. Neuron 2013; 80: 270–274.
Relmi Damiano

Relmi Damiano

GM & Chief Creative Officer
About my Brain Institute

Relmi Damiano is the Co-Founder, GM & CCO of the About my Brain Institute. Founded in 2009 alongside leadership expert Silvia Damiano, the Institute’s vision is to democratise leadership & neuroscience by shaking up how we develop the human, the leader and the creative we all carry within.

In 2010, this dynamic mother and daughter team, produced the first “Brain Art Project” as a way to explore people's incipient interest in the brain. This was an international competition and exhibition that over the course of 2 years attracted over 1000 artists, scientists, designers, health practitioners and business leaders from all over the world who shared and expressed their different perspectives on neuroscience, creativity, mental health and wellbeing. The insights gained from this venture, highlighted the relevance of building a more holistic, design-driven and interdisciplinary approach to applying brain science to our daily lives.

With Relmi’s user-centered design, digital strategy and artistic expertise paired up with Silvia’s 20 years of experience in transforming leaders and cultures, they then released the i4 Neuroleader Model, Methodology & Assessment Suite, published the ‘Leadership Is Upside Down’ book and coined the term Brain-Friendly Cultures - all in 2013.

The purpose of their i4 Neuroleader Methodology is to transform current leadership practices and create the leaders of the future, leaders who are more conscious, ethical, compassionate, healthy, integrated, imaginative, intuitive and inspirational. Over the course of 4 years, as part of Vivid Sydney, Relmi & Silvia hosted the annual i4 Tales Conference & Design Exhibition, which attracted over 250 people each year to explore and discuss these topics in a community environment.

Since its inception, the About my Brain Institute has certified thousands of practitioners globally in the i4 Neuroleader Methodology, ran numerous events and retreats as well as delivered brain-friendly programs in organisations globally.

One of their most remarkable projects was the ‘Make Me A Leader’ film, released in 2018. They self-funded and produced a multiple award-winning documentary that gathered highly regarded experts, professors and scientists who shared the secrets of how leaders can optimise brain and body performance to thrive in the 21st Century.

Relmi has also been a sessional Lecturer and Tutor at Sydney University and Billy Blue College of Design in design thinking, service design, human-centered design, user experience, entrepreneurship, business model generation, branding, communication design, innovation and strategy. She also mentored and created a wide range of student design briefs for live industry projects for film, exhibition design, data visualisation, 3D/2D animation, gaming, digital art and web based projects.

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think