Planned Serendipity

When you search Flickr for "chance encounter" you get thousands of results. And so many photos are of groups of people either smiling/laughing or someone having a moment of awe.

Oh, and lots of dogs doing this.

 CC // "Chance Encounter" // @jameslaing

CC // "Chance Encounter" // @jameslaing

Every so often I'm reminded (by an article, a discussion, a chance encounter) of Planned Serendipity. It's an unimpeachable notion, at least in my opinion. Thor Muller, author of a book called Get Lucky, puts it really simply (emphasis is mine): 

Always keep goals in mind, but at the same time, be ready to process and utilize the experiences you didn't anticipate. Have a structure in place that enables a constant flow of chance encounters. 

I'm not even a little convinced our education or business infrastructures - let alone we as humans, probably as a result of the way education and business is traditionally done - are wired this way, despite the success of outlier companies like 3M and Google who are. Muller's co-author, Lane Becker:

One of the reasons why people are so adverse to the concept of luck is because we're taught to believe that following certain rules is the way to achieve success. Yet time and time again, we see people who follow the same route end up and in totally different places. We'll often hear that one of those people "got lucky" while the other didn't.  If we look more closely, we'll see that what this really means is that one of the people was better at taking advantage of "chance happenings" that occurred throughout their life.

I love the author's metaphor of the hotel lobby as the essence of planned serendipity. As someone who used to travel massive amounts on my own for business, I loved sitting in hotel lobbies for hours watching this kind of thing happen.