The ABCD’s of Significance

January 19, 2024

At Scatter, we’re equipping you with the tools and resources you need to thrive in the ways God has uniquely designed you to contribute. We want to see you leverage your personality and passion, your talents and training to bring real and lasting impact to the world around you.

At age 16, Richard Branson was struggling with school and having a difficult time seeing why all the work was worth the effort. So he took matters into his own hands; he dropped out. 

No one could have predicted what would come next. That just a few years later, Branson would go on to start Virgin Records, which would become a giant within the music industry. That he would eventually one day be knighted for his contribution to entrepreneurship. That later in the 21st century he would be in the mix with the commercial space tourism race through Virgin Galactic.

Somehow, Branson broke through the barriers in front of and around him. He pushed past the challenges and struggles to become one of the more successful businessmen of this generation. How did he do that?

He followed a simple idea.

Sir Richard Branson discovered a way of working early on in his business career, that if emulated, can propel you beyond just worldly success, but into the realm of a worthy and significant life. 

That idea is a mantra that Branson has ingrained into every one of his companies from their inception. He calls it “The ABCD’s” but his employees, friends, and even competitors know what it really stands for: “Always Be Connecting Dots.”

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Do you remember those craft pieces of paper that were covered with all the little numbered dots? The ones where if you took a pen or pencil or oversized crayon, and went from number to number, a fun image would begin to take shape?

From a young age, connecting dots makes sense to us because there is something in our brains that knows that point A is meant to be tethered to point B. Something that understands that those connections help us see the bigger picture of life.

This article is the fourth and final piece in a series around How to Live a Worthy Life. We’ve aimed to define what “worthwhile” truly means. We’ve looked at how you can stand out from the crowd and how you can stoke the Kingdom sparks inside your soul to bring impact and intentionality to your sphere of influence.

But this is our conclusion, because the simple reality is, without connecting the dots in your life, the previous advice may end up for naught. Connecting the pieces of your story is that powerful and provides that much of a foundation for your ability to live a worthwhile life.

However, just because it is natural doesn’t mean connecting the dots is easy. 

In his manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin wrote how high school and university students today are educated not in connecting dots, but rather in “collecting dots.” They are steered away from linking A to B and are instead measured on how many A’s and B’s and C’s they can amass.

But we’ve veered off the path of wisdom somewhere if we think that a stockpile of dots is a more accurate representation of success and significance than a life that is interconnected and tethered.

In fact, I’d argue that for those who follow Jesus and who desire to live a worthy life in their work, friendships, homes, that connecting, not collecting, the dots might just be the most important shift you can make as you mature and grow.

Why is this so important? What can we learn from this practice that changes the way we view significance and success? There are three key dots to connect to.

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Dot #1 - Your Story is Part of A Bigger Story

We live in a world surrounded by books, and we’re better off for it. However, there was a time, surprisingly not too long ago, when books were rare and were items of interest only to the wealthy or the highly educated.

In that day, people didn’t read stories. They told them. And often they told them piece by piece, bit by bit. 

It was an imperfect practice, but one of the joyous benefits of this form of storytelling was the knowledge that the story was never truly “over.” That every telling was a part of a much larger telling, a much grander narrative. 

The same is true of your life. Your days are a tangle of threads. A spool of significance. A jumble of all kinds of joys and sorrows and hopes and fears and doubts and triumphs. No one else is like you, but that doesn’t mean your story is one of isolated individualism.

Your story is a part of a bigger story. All of our stories are. 

Your job, work, or passions are all dots that can be connected back into the larger picture. How do you ultimately live a worthwhile life? You connect your impact with the larger impact of God’s kingdom. You understand that your life is both supremely meaningful and that it represents dots 14,704,812,343 - 14,704,812,347 on the tapestry of human history as overseen by a good and loving God.

You are a part of the most beautiful picture ever created and your dots matter. But it’s not just all about your dots.

You want significance? Look for the ways that your dots connect to others. Be mindful of how your job or your skillset can lead you to invest in others who need guidance. Celebrate how your passions can lead you to advocate for the hurting, the broken, the marginalized. Lead your family to love your neighborhood.

If you were not part of a larger story then all the pressure falls on you to make your story the single greatest achievement in the history of humanity. But as it is, you are part of a larger story. It just takes a little connecting.

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Dot #2 - Don’t Get Too Stuck on One Dot

One of the other beautiful realities that we can glean from connecting the dots in our lives is that we don’t have to get stuck for too long on one dot. What does that mean, practically?

When you live a connected life, no one thing can sink you. No one dot can wipe you out. Sufferings or hardships become setbacks instead of places that stall you out. 

When you live a connected life, especially a life where you are connected to the true Source of all peace, joy, love, and goodness, then you have the freedom and the means to not place the entirety of your identity in one of your dots. You have the availability to elevate your line of sight beyond the moment-by-moment.

When you become fixated on one dot as the means or avenue of your success, you can become trapped in the dynamics of that dot that are often uncontrollable. Most of us have no real control if our companies go under tomorrow. We largely don’t control how our bodies get sick, our homes and possessions break down, or how people around us react or respond.

When you shift your focus from what you can control to what you can connect to, you can experience a life of security, and from that security, you can pursue significance and success.

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Dot #3 - Zoom in and Zoom Out Frequently

Our last dot might sound a bit counterintuitive given what we just broke down in dot #2, but think about this with me. If you want to live a connected life that leads to heavenly significance and worldly joy and contentment, then you will want to become familiar with these two tools: your microscope and your telescope.

Let’s go back to that piece of paper you may have drawn on as a kid. Remember what it felt like to go from dot to dot, to have to search for dot 43 as your pencil pressed into dot 42 and that moment you found it and started drawing that connecting line? Remember what you felt like when you finished all the dots and you held up the piece of paper and saw the whole picture? The airplane? The castle?

Take that memory and think about how it overlays with your life today. If you want to connect well with the different dots in your life, leading you to live with significance and passion and pursue the things that are truly worthy, then every so often you need to zoom in. And every so often you need to zoom out.

Let’s look at the microscope first.

God has placed you exactly where you are. Right now. He knows where you live. Your passions. He knows your neighbors and their needs. He knows your gifts and your wounds and he is working in it all. Today. That’s all you have access to. You don’t get tomorrow. At least not yet. And what’s happened before is now history.

You get right now to connect your dots and make a difference in the spheres around you. So focus in. Zoom in on what’s in front of you. Don’t overlook the small things. Don’t despise the regular and the routine.

Like a microscope looking at something incredibly small and detailed, zoom in and see the beauty that is just beneath the surface.

But also know that sometimes, it’s the right move to bring out the telescope.

Zooming out and getting your head out from the weeds and into the clouds can remind your soul that there are bigger things at play than what’s right in front of you. When you zoom out, you can find encouragement that you serve a God who is above all things. Who is holding all things together. That call today with your colleague? God’s over it. That tension with your friend that you’re trying to resolve? Zoom out and remember that God’s running the universe. 

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Keep Connecting

Whether or not you find yourself on dot 4, dot 424, or dot 40,240, your invitation today is to keep connecting. As you take stock of where you are, you’ll begin to realize that you aren’t where you started. You’ve made progress. Grown. Seen highs and lows. But you also aren’t where you are going to end up. There is more road ahead. More to explore. More to trust for. More to connect to.

If you live with a sense of connection in mind, I’m confident you’ll end up living a worthwhile life.

Article by Jake Daghe, writer and director of discipleship at Passion City Church