Connect The Dots: How To Find Meaning In Anything

One of the few benefits of having a bunch of “bad stuff” happens early in life is that you learn to, as Ray Dalio might say, “not over squeeze the dots.” That is, you don’t place a bunch of unwarranted weight on the obstacle in front of you or the event at hand. You see it for what it is: another data point, another chance to perfect the model, another opportunity to build skill—just another one of those.

This is why the entrepreneurial zeitgeist is obsessed with failure. The quicker you fail, the more often you fail, the more data points you have, the better the model you’ve built. The better the model you’ve built, the more you understand, the more strategic you can be with future calls, and the more likely you are to succeed in the long-run. That’s the logic, anyway.

Life is the same. It’s like one of those connect the dots puzzles, each dot revealing itself as you go. The fun is in finding the pattern.

What we call “problems” are the events we didn’t expect to occur based on our current models of the world. We thought these dots were shaping up to look like a nice Christmas candy cane. But nope, here comes another dot way out on the side of the page. What statisticians call an outlier. What you and I call bullshit.

Your picture perfect red and white candy cane picture is ruined.

Or is it?

I’m not sure. You decide what happens next. You can ignore the outlier or you can face it. You can turn the page and look for a new pattern or choose to ignore the dot entirely.

Any success I’ve had in managing my emotions over the past few years (which I must admit have been quite rough) has been due to choosing the former. When I have the strength, I turn the page. I change my perspective. I look for a new pattern.

I keep playing the game. And while some may think it’s crazy, no matter what dots are thrown at me, I truly believe the fun is in finding the pattern.

Kate Ward