Does success come all at once or through a series of connected events?
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva and host of the Remarkable People podcast, fully appreciates serendipity and how things have worked together to get him where he is today. But he says serendipity without seizing the opportunity is a lost opportunity.
It’s easy to reflect on your life and see how different events worked together. But the key is to find those serendipitous events in the moment and take advantage of the opportunity.
It’s a concept Kawasaki calls connecting the dots. He says it’s vital—especially in your youth—to make lots of dots because you never know what dots will connect you. Looking back, you may think there was a plan because the dots came together. But in actuality, it’s you making many dots that can connect and create powerful opportunities.
Kawasaki points out that the idea that there’s a single straight line to success is flawed. Too often, people think there is one path—such as studying calculus in high school, going to Stanford, getting a job at Goldman Sachs, and working your way up the ladder.
But that’s not always the case. Most people have a less linear path to success that taps into the dots they’ve placed along the way. Those paths still result in success but just not in the most obvious way in the moment.
Making lots of dots means being open to opportunities, building relationships, and expanding your network and possibilities beyond what’s comfortable. The more you embrace new opportunities, the more dots you make, and the more likely they will connect later to put you on a path to success.
Serendipity is a concept Kawasaki has seen in his own life. His sixth-grade teacher recommended him to a college prep school, which put him on the path to Stanford, which opened doors and introduced him to people that helped him land a job in the early days of Apple with Steve Jobs.
Each of those moments was a dot he placed along the way. But the path would likely have looked different if he had a different sixth-grade teacher. Even then, he could still make dots that lead to a successful path.
Success doesn’t come overnight. It takes work and making lots of dots over time to see what comes together in a serendipitous path. But more than that, it requires being aware of your connections and seizing the opportunity.
No matter where you are in your life and career, it’s never too late to make dots and seize the opportunity as things come together.
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