It’s midway through January, and I’m still wondering what will I make of myself in the coming year? How will forces beyond my control remake me? And how do I measure my success?
And so we begin again amidst a whirl of uncertainty, hope, ambition, mighty intentions and familiar imperfections — with past resolutions as impotent devices to my hard-wired habits as a BlackBerry or Palm Pilot was to the iPhone circa 2008.
So I opened my photos app for inspiration and right there before my eyes, there it was — the power of the portable lens that is our iPhone.
From its start, the iPhone was a dreamy, revolutionary device that seamlessly enabled access to email, music, the web, photography and oh yeah, phone calls.
As a metaphor for self-improvement, who among us doesn’t aim for the kind of impressive features and trailblazing progress of the iPhone? It took us outside ourselves, placing the world and practically everything in it in the palm of our hands.
But like our own false starts, it’s easy to forget now that everything wasn’t lined up and perfect with the iPhone when it launched — there were flaws, missing features, limited internet carriers and expensive pricing.
Whirling With the Dervishes.
Despite all that, in 2008 I was one of those who fell in love with this wonder and armed myself with its magic, snapping away, capturing my most magical moments as I experienced them, like the whirling dervishes of Turkey.
Once ruled illegal, the Whirling Prayer Ceremony has remained one of Turkey’s top tier tourist experiences and my iPhone helped me be in the moment.
Back then, I measured the iPhone’s success on the convenience of having a camera in my pocket, never dreaming of the powerful optics of today’s model — its enabling virtue was not the power of the lens but how we see or measure things that matter most.
As Steve Jobs observed, we can only connect the dots looking backward because neither life nor the iPhone unfolds with everything lining up perfectly at the beginning.
What’s clear in hindsight from Jobs’ remarks on how life’s dots line up, having faith and focus are the true enabling virtues and secret sauce of being successful.
Belief is an integral part of who we are, shaping the lens of our perception about ourselves and our experience of life's joy and mystery.
2Be Present at Every Whirl of the Journey
Like our devices, we tend to set our sights on the enterprising features and not the innate beauty of every experience it enables for us, so perhaps a camera in the pocket isn’t the same thing as training a lens on the beauty of what we love.
Is the experience behind my photo of the dervishes devalued because it could be captured with more fidelity and detail today?
When we focus the lens of our attention inward, we too enable enchanting beauty, love and faith, just as the whirling dervishes center themselves to the silent chants of prayer, or ‘zikr’, of the heart.
Upon reflection, I can see that no success is pre-ordained, and even when you design something truly exciting and unique, there will be uncertainty.
That’s the beauty of the whirling dervishes and the iPhone I used to capture them — trusting this interface between us and our experience.
And it’s why we need something more than a master plan as our New Year’s resolution.
If optimizing the space between faith and focus is the true key to success — trusting the dots will connect later — we don’t need to have a master plan with all the answers about perfection and beauty.