The days between X‑Mas and New Year’s Eve are somewhat special for me: formally, I decide not to work, and most part of the day that’s true. But since I have been an entrepreneur all my life, there’s no distinct line between business and non-business, these days provide the time for reflections — how was the past year? — and for thoughts about goals and instruments for the approaching next year.
Mostly, a few hours strolling around a lake (what a great experience at Lake Starnberg today — just look at the featured image) are enough to get things straight in my mind, be it business related or private stuff. While some of my friends and peers come up with personal ‘themes’ that provide the framework and guidance for their activities in the new year — here a nice example by Maria Sipka — some time ago I chose a different strategy for myself: I try to connect the dots.
Perhaps ‘strategy’ is not the appropriate term, it has rather become a way of life for me. Inspired by some great philosophical and spiritual minds, I started to look out for situations, events, people and feelings that somehow fit together. With fitting together I mean a certain connection between these otherwise completely independent elements of my environment. Sometimes, this connection lis laid out quite clearly, sometimes I need some more time to see it. When looking out for these connections I’m aware of the very human confirmation bias; i.e. connected elements do not necessarily represent desired outcomes. It’s more about perceiving correlations, if you want the data perspective.
From strategy to connected dots
When I started to look for dots to be connected my goal was to use that for my personal life. How amazed I was when I realized that this also works in business. Instead of pondering on business strategies and models, the answers to questions such as: How to define this business vertical or build this product?, Wth whom to partner? or How to frame this proposal? come quite naturally by being aware of the environment and doing what seems to make the most sense in a given situation. Sometimes, these answers don’t appear on the spot, e.g. in a meeting. Then, it’s a good idea not to decide on that topic but let it go and switch to a different topic and to move this question to the next day or week. Often, the needed information or answers come up shortly afterwards, in situations totally unrelated to the original topic, such as lying in bed, showering or running in the forest.
As easy or almost magic all this might sound, there’s a catch. You, or at least I myself, won’t see dots to be connected without being intensely connected to my environment and being mindful, respectively. I know that for sure since I have tried it out. In times I tried to do the trick with being lazy and waiting for things to happen, nothing happened. Or, in other words, I wasn’t able to see any dots I could connect. On the other hand, as soon I focus on each moment, getting the most of each situation and add whatever I can to the situation, the dots appear again. Being mindful sometimes doesn’t come easy — there are situations when body and soul just want to go the easy way. But, little is more rewarding than realizing the rewards of being attentive and sensitive.
The funny aspect of connecting the dots is this: nobody will believe you that you might base all of your business (or private) decisions on that kind of seemingly esoteric stuff such as waiting for things to happen. Most people wu=ill assume that you use other strategies or techniques since they themselves would never trust in an intuitive behavior like that. But that doesn’t matter at all. If you connect the dots you will feel the easiness of that way of life and you won’t loose it again. That’s at least what happened to me. For me, there’s no other theme for 2017 than to connect the dots.