You Can Only Join The Dots Looking Backwards

Today the news has been dominated by the death of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers.

For me, Apple made sense of technology.  I’ve always been amazed and frustrated by technology in equal measure.  When I started using Apple products my amazement  levels went up and my frustration levels went down.  I realise this isn’t everyone’s experience – but it’s mine and to Steve Jobs I remain extremely grateful for helping to bring me things that enhanced my life.

So why I am putting this on the MissImp blog?

Back in 2005, Steve Jobs did the commencement speech at Stanford University.  In that speech he spoke about how the choices he’d made had gone on to be vital to his success.  What he said was so similar to the theory that under-pins good improv scene work that I thought it worth sharing.  He spoke about how he dropped out of college and, instead, ended up going to a calligraphy class because it looked interesting.

If I had never dropped out [of college], I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.  Again, 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.

British improv teacher and writer Keith Johnstone sats “Improvisation is like steering a car by looking through the rear view mirror. You don’t know where you are going, you can only see where you’ve been.”.   I believe that a good improv scene contains great choices early-on that can be connected together as the scene progresses.  It’s just a case of listening and remembering… and then you can join the dots.

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