Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Faith, Trust and Connecting the Dots

I posted this in my newsletter and sharing it with on my blog. Enjoy, happy reading and happy 9-09-09! May this inspire you in your dreams, start ups and breaking through the every day blockages!

As I move forward in building my company, OneGiving™ (, and I get ready to go to investors looking for start up capital, I am finding more and more every day that it is about faith and trusting that the dots will connect, even if I can’t see it from here.

I was recently reminded of this when I re-read Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address from June 2005. As he put it, “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…it has made all the difference in my life.”

This really helped remind me to keep moving forward and to trust the process. It made me realize that I am not the only one embarking on a journey to follow my dream, start up a company or stretch beyond my comfort level. So I pulled together some of the wisdom from my favorite recent readings that I wanted to share with you all to help inspire you to push past some of your own obstacles and beyond your self-imposed limitations.

In Steve Jobs’ commencement speech (, his words of wisdom included:
· Find what you love and do it! The only thing that really keeps us going is to do what we love. We spend so much time working, so we might as well spend that time loving what we do. If you haven’t found what you love, then keep looking and don’t settle until you find it!
· Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. We definitely aren’t taught to follow our heart and intuition and often get trapped in living the life that others want for us. Life is too short! Don’t let those voices drown out your own truth! Follow your heart and intuition, it won’t steer you wrong.
· Have faith and trust that the dots will connect. As per the quote above, you may not be able to see how things will work out, but as long as you keep going in the direction of your heart, having the courage and trusting, you will begin to see the magic unfold!

In a talk entitled, “How Not to Die,” Y Combinator partner, essayist and entrepreneur Paul Graham talks about some key tips for start ups on how to survive and thrive (and not die) ( His wisdom included:
· Stay in regular contact with your investors and others. In other words, don’t isolate. This can apply to you whether you are a start up or just someone breaking out of your own limitations. Become part of a circle and community that helps you keep growing, moving forward and succeeding. So often when we hit our walls, limits or obstacles, we isolate and wither away. Avoid this and stay in contact with others to engage, nurture and inspire you to keep going.
· Stay committed and focused. Don’t take on other projects, distractions or “consulting gigs.” Sound familiar? I know it has been a hard one for me. Every month, when I think about the money coming in, I think ok perhaps I should get another consulting gig just to pad the budget a little. But I know I always give 150% to clients and that would be valuable time I couldn’t be giving to 100% focus on the success of OneGiving™. It is scary, but it has really helped me be fully committed to its success and my success and so I am willing to go that extra step, that extra mile, to make it all happen!
· Don’t ever give up! I love this one. One of the things Paul talks about is how if start ups just keep going, they will eventually succeed. So many of us spend so much time planting the seeds, doing the hard work, yet get scared or uncomfortable at the very end and we walk away, we quit before it is time! I have heard before there is no failure, other than quitting, then you are choosing to fail. Food for thought!

Finally, in a book called “Founders At Work,” Jessica Livingston, another partner at Y Combinator, interviewed 32 leading start up company founders that made it to share their experiences in the start up process to help others ( She wrote about the characteristics that each of these start up founders had in common, including:
· Determination, perseverance and adaptability. I kind of hit on this above, but felt it was worth reiterating. When starting something new, so many of us have a vision of what something looks like and when it doesn’t happen the way we think it should happen, we often cast it off as a failure and walk away. Rather, what she found is that when people are determined, continue to persist and adapt, they look for the nuggets of what is working and adapt their idea and vision to meet where people are at. Having this flexibility and persistence allows for the best of all creations to arise and often makes for a success bigger than we could have ever imagined.
· Put it out there! I totally had to laugh at this one and the following quote from her book, “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” Boy if this one wasn’t the truth. So often we hold things back and are afraid to put our ideas out there because we are afraid people will steal our idea. But the reality if you get it out there, more people can be working in your favor to make it happen!
· Change the world! Finally, my favorite thing of them all, is that when interviewing everyone, she found one major thing they all had in common: they all wanted to change the world!

That is what it is all about after all! Yes, I am building OneGiving™ (, a for-profit and nonprofit company, and seeking investors to make them (and us) money. But more than anything else, I am creating this company and this vision because I want to be the change that I wish to see in the world. It is that plain and simple!

That was the dot I needed to keep me going until the next dot appears and I can begin to more clearly make sense of and connect the dots! Thank you all for the inspiration! I hope this may inspire some of you to keep moving forward, step by step, dot by dot, in the direction of your dreams!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

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