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  • Writer's pictureJay Ashcroft

Is it Healthy to Look Back? Why I Believe it is – And Why it Catapults You Forward: Dissecting a Steve Jobs Quote

a photo of philosophical thoughts for a blog written mindset hacker for small business and being an entrepreneur using your subconscious mind and trusting your gut, how to look back to move forward

I heard a quote the other day, and to be honest I’m really surprised that it’s the first time I’ve heard it. Here it is:


“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. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and has made all the difference in my life.”

-       Steve Jobs


It’s no secret that Apple is one of the greatest tech giants of all time, and if you aren’t familiar with his work, Steve Jobs created the whole thing – he is Mr. Apple.


By the way, if you’re still on a windows computer, what are you doing? I’m writing this on a MacBook Pro from 2012.


Anyways, apologies for the consumer goods rant. Onwards. Is it healthy to look back?


As life unfolds, I tend to realize more and more that not everything needs to make perfect sense, all at once. Which is why it’s so damn important to have a dream to be chasing, and to learn how to trust your gut.


The only way I’ve arrived at this point in my life is through a series of gut choices that have ultimately led to the details being filled in at a later date. We don’t need every single detail before we get started – we just need to get started, as long as it’s on the path of our choosing.


The hardest experiences in my life were the times between graduating from University, and starting my career as a photographer. If you could imagine about 7 or 8 years of anguish, fear, sadness and borderline psychosis, I was deep in the thick of it.


You see, University was an amazing time in my life. I always had a gal by my side, I was learning and experiencing new things, I was creating film photography and other art – I was making connections and developing relationships that would last a lifetime.


I was partying and playing and learning. I was free.


And then came the big upset. We all graduated, we all went our separate ways. I felt like Van Wilder, except without the wealthy parents to keep paying my tuition indefinitely.


I was lost – without purpose or reason. “How did I get here? What the hell do I do now?” I would play in my head on repeat. I continued to try to find meaning for the next several years.


By default I continued to work as a maintenance guy at a campground, and then as an equipment operator with my older brother, as a carpenter with a high end home builder. I did it all.


Eventually, after dropping out from college years later, I drove out to Calgary to truly face myself. I came back a year later, a man, and began my journey as a professional photographer.


What’s the point here? Well throughout the confusing time – one thing was constant. I was a beast. I worked hard. Like really hard. I worked harder than anyone else. I’m not sure why. It’s not like it benefited me immediately.


Maybe I enjoyed the abuse – it felt like doing drugs, you know? Like, something you know isn’t good for you, so you keep doing it.


I was obviously exhausted and beaten down into the ground, yet I still pushed and pushed. The pain was incomparable. I was a tradesman, with the work ethic of a WWII soldier.


Now, flash forward to discovering my life’s purpose – my real goals and sense direction come to fruition. I started to say aloud “I’m going to become a photographer.” Then, you know, as time went on – not that much time actually, maybe a few months – I indeed was a photographer.


I had done it, somehow.


It turns out that all my time in the trenches wasn’t for nothing. The work ethic that I had tirelessly developed during those hard times was applied directly to my wishes, dreams and desires. What an unstoppable combination! How potent.


You see, I worked tirelessly to learn everything I needed to in order to charge clients money for photography services rendered. I worked my day job from 8am – 4pm, and then I went to the photo studio I was working out of by 5pm, stayed until 12am, and repeat. Every. Single. Day.


I did what would usually take years in a matter of months – because I wanted it, I was hungry – and I was unstoppable.


Now, looking back, I realized then and still realize now, that it was my construction background that gave me the energy and will to push through the learning curves. I would always be thinking “Hey, I’m playing with cameras for a living – imagine if I was still suffering through the cold, dusty, muddy environments of my past. Geeezz. My god I’m lucky.”


Even further than the benefits of the work ethic I was able to develop, there’s actually some very translatable skillsets that I was able to adopt into my photography practice as well.


As a carpenter, I’ve always been obsessive. “It must be perfect.” I would say to my father, as he rolls his eyes and curses my name.


Carpentry is quite simple. Measure, cut, screw and nail stuff together. Make sure it’s solid and strong. At its core, building is literally just straight lines and level plains of view. Now take that concept and apply it to photography.


In the same way as I can look at a wall and make sure it’s level and straight by eye, I can do this in photography – and it’s become a superpower. I suffered through learning how to do it in carpentry for so long, it’s just natural now.


There’s plenty more that has happened in my past and is directly applicable to the things that I do today, but those are all stories for other days.


Steve Jobs really did have it right when he said that looking back allows us to connect the dots. We’re only where we are because of the choices that we’ve made in the past. And if we can find it in ourselves to be optimistic and opportunistic, then we’ll all find that everything we’ve done was for a reason.


The more these realizations come about, the less we have to fear. The answers tend to come as we need them, and I revel at the fact that more and more I catch myself noticing these revelations.


Don’t cling to obsessively controlling each and every situation. Let go, accept, enjoy the game of life and know that one day the answers will come, whether it’s in a few days, a couple of months – or as in my case, 7 or 8 years.


To Your Success,

Jay Ashcroft      


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