I was recently reconnected with a friend that I hadn’t seen in several months. A lot has changed in those months, and when we really got to talking and catching up I realized just how much. My mental and physical health has improved, my business is picking up off the ground, and more importantly I had been doing things worth talking about instead of just “I just went through the entire series of Friends on Netflix…”
Some of the highlights include strategizing with a nonprofit startup based out of London, discussing a possible future with a travel app from St. John’s, consulting with a new board game creator, making new friends from all over the world…
As I told him these things, and he asked “How did that come about?” I realized how much serendipity there is in life, only some of which we are actually aware of.
- It was a retweet that lead me to the woman from London starting a nonprofit.
- It was a conversation during a drive to the airport that connected me with the guy making the travel app.
- It was random team selection that put me on the board game project during a Startup Weekend.
- It was a tweet from an traveler that made me a new Irish friend who stayed at my house for a week.
It’s kind of incredible the seemingly innocuous things that can lead to amazing happenings in your life. If nothing else, I have a few great stories to tell, and all it took was for me to widen my comfort zone and embrace new experiences.
Sometimes I do have to wonder why I go out of my way to do things like this. Have any of these things yielded any measurable, tangible results, up to and including revenue? No. But I am confident that the time that I put in on these types of projects and relationships will lead to that, or will lead to bigger and better things. One of these people having a conversation with someone else might lead to my name being mentioned, which may lead to a phone call, which may lead to client work. Who knows what could happen?
That’s really the key, I think… “Who knows?”
It’s definitely worth noting that I do not believe in luck or divine intervention. The former is a word used to describe when statistical probabilities work out in someone’s favour, and the latter is… I’m not going to say “not possible”, but I just don’t like the idea of someone else pulling strings in my life.
I think that serendipity is the result of two things:
- Random chance.
- Smart luck.
“Smart luck” is basically just a euphemism for “I am the direct result of my actions” or one big, interconnected case of cause-and-effect. Best explained in an episode of Code Black:
After Edmonton, a reporter asked if that goal was dumb luck. You said it was smart luck. He asked you what you meant. You said, “Smart luck is when you work your ass off so when the opportunity presents itself, you don’t have to pray for dumb luck.”
Put simply, smart luck is the ripple effect of your past actions affecting your present and your future. Everything you’ve ever done or ever will do is a chess move, and all of those moves eventually culminate in something. The actions you took days, weeks, months, years, or decades ago come around and result in your life as it is and as it will be.
- I decided to follow the person on Twitter who retweeted the woman in London, and I decided to reply and follow up with her.
- I signed up for the workshop where I met the guy who I drove the airport, and then I offered to drive him to the airport.
- I drove the 8 hours to go to the Startup Weekend, expressed an interest in the product that was pitched, and was shortlisted for that team.
- I was an outgoing person on social media and an Irish traveler passing through town noticed and asked me show him around.
All of the decisions I’ve made in the past have led me here, and the decisions I make now will affect my future. I choose to err on the side of adventure and jump at opportunities.
I believe that these things happen because I spent years being nice to people, talking to people, offering to help them, not expecting something in return, being a tourist myself… All of these things culminated in me being person I am today, and my actions have lead to new opportunities being placed in front of me. I seized those opportunities and have since created new ones for myself.
The universe is random chaos… but sometimes, with the right action and luck, I think that we can ride that chaos like a wave, and use it to give ourselves some pretty good experiences.
Bring on whatever’s next.