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Live Larger By Capturing More Serendipitous Opportunities

Looking back, haven’t there been unexpected moments where you met someone, or heard an idea, that positively changed the course of your life?

Staying open to serendipitous moments increases the chances you’ll cultivate a flexible mindset, see more facets of a situation and discover more breakthroughs in your areas of strongest interest. Additionally, you’ll open more doors to unexpected happenings in the adventure story you are truly meant to live.

Staying open to serendipitous moments increases the chances you’ll cultivate a flexible mindset

Beginning with our first success in childhood, we become attached to what we believe are our strengths in temperament and talent which enabled us to win. Why not? They seemed to be what makes us popular. We are drawn also to people who seem to “act right” – like us. We instinctively project onto them other traits we admire, even when they don’t have such traits. In so doing, we narrow our view on the right way to behave, missing many opportunities and friendships.

Are You a Savvy Serendipity Seeker?

If you score above a 36 in the workplace serendipity quiz, you’re more likely to be able to lead innovative teams, to “cultivate innovation” and to prosper, according to Earning Serendipity author Glenn Llopis.
Tip: One of the four practices Llopis advocates reflects a mutuality mindset: “Sharing the harvest: Focus on meeting others’ needs to improve personal good fortune.”

Court Serendipity to Invite More Productive Adventures  

Accepting that serendipitous events play a greater role in your life than those you have planned can make life feel more like an adventure, rather than a frightening series of situations against which we must protect ourselves. Also, others may be having similar click moments at the same time; an effect called Multiple Discovery. This phenomenon influenced the invention of can openers, keyboards and rollaboards, notes Matt Ridley, citing What Technology Wants author, Kevin Kelly.

Recognizing that collective click moments happen can make us feel more interconnected. If Frans Johansson, author of the new book, The Click Moment, heard these true stories, he’d probably nod in quick understanding. Here are three ways to capture more serendipitous opportunities:

1. Cultivate Those with Different Talents And Temperaments

In so doing, we narrow our view on what’s the right way to do things, missing many opportunities and friendships.

Are You Neurotic, Open, Extroverted or Agreeable? Apparently NSA knows. An MIT Media Lab team, led by Patrick Tucker, author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? found that your metadata – including the way you use your phone, how you make calls, to whom, for how long and so on – can show your personality.

To discover and cultivate individuals who are different from you, begin by discovering which of the personality types in the widely used Five-Factor Model of Personality bests describe you:

Neurotic: A higher than normal tendency to experience unpleasant emotions.
Open: Broadly curious and creative.
Extroverted: Looks toward others for stimulation.
Agreeable: Warm, compassionate and cooperative.
Conscientious: Self-disciplined, organized and eager for success

2. Seek Serendipitous Moments  

Recognize meaningful moments three ways, according to The Click Moment author, Frans Johansson:

1. They tend to occur when two separate concepts, ideas or people meet.
2. They are impossible to predict as to when, how or where they will happen.
3. You may recognize them because they often evoke emotional responses “such as happiness, awe or excitement.”

3. Fertilize Your Combinatorial Creativity

Connect with diverse Individuals around sweet spots of mutual interest. If successful scientists “have often been people with wide interests,” as Cambridge University professor William Ian Beardmore Beveridge concluded in The Art of Scientific Investigation, then you, too, might make more breakthroughs by seeking more varied people and experiences. Innovation most often happens when you adapt an idea from one domain into a new one, and that’s most likely to happen when you engage with people from different professions, backgrounds, industries, ages and so on.

 Innovation most often happens when you adapt an idea from one domain into a new one, and that’s most likely to happen when you engage with people from different professions, backgrounds, industries, ages and so on.

As Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova suggests, we need combinatorial creativity to have more experiences so we can connect the dots, and cross-pollinate. Like LEGO building blocks, “The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our castles (innovations) will become.”  

Steal Like An Artist author Austin Kleon advocates, remix your art with others. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

Always carry a notebook (or smart device on which you can type or record, whichever works best for you, everywhere).

Dip into other worlds and disciplines by attending a lecture or club meeting or reading, or read publications from worlds quite different from your profession, industry or main interests.

Create an online filing system in which to put your notes and review it weekly to see what fresh ideas you spark by seeing the notes you recently took. Notice the direction(s) in which you are pulling yourself by seeing which folders you use most frequently. Consider revising the filing categories in keeping with the connections you are now making between them.

Hint: Bonus benefits beyond becoming more creative and having greater adventures around people unlike you: You improve your memory and motivation for learning more, according to UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience researcher Emrah Düzel. Here’s to your capturing more serendipitous opportunities to enjoy a meaningful life with others.

 

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Kare Anderson is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter turned speaker and strategist on connective behavior and quotability, TED presenter on Opportunity Makers (over 2 million views) and TEDx speaker on Redefining Your Life Around Mutuality. She’s an advisor to Gloopt, and TEDxMarin, co-founder of nine PACs, and a founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown. She writes for Forbes, The Huffington Post and her blog, Moving From Me to We. Her books include Mutuality Matters, Mutuality Matters More, Moving From Me to We, Resolving Conflict Sooner, and Getting What You Want. @kareanderson

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