My sister read the book “The Secret” a while back and has since talked my ear off about manifesting. No matter how hard I roll my eyes, she continues to claim that it works.
Once as she was explaining the central theory: “The book said that by manifesting, you make your wishes become a reality. For example, if I manifest a red truck, I’ll see a red truck,” and as she talked, a red truck drove past us.
“See!!!” she yelled, punching me in the arm.
Confirmation bias is a trip.
But it works.
I recently read a book called “The Serendipity Mindset” that brought the same approach to mind. The book’s key message was that serendipity is about making your own luck, usually by connecting dots that have previously remained elusive — finding patterns where others see chaos. You can cultivate the right mindset by being perceptive, curious, open-minded, and eager to see opportunities where others might see only negativity.
This requires you to adopt an observant and perceptive attitude — the kind that not only notices something unusual but can connect that bit of information with something else.
Like, for example, spotting a red truck when you have been primed to find a red truck.
It can look like luck — and in a way, it is. Instead of blind and dumb luck, serendipity is active, strategic luck.
As much as we want to attribute success to our abilities or skill with planning, luck is the more likely culprit. And luck is simply an unforeseen event, chance meeting, or unusual coincidence. Unexpected situations can be seen as a distraction and point of interest or an opportunity to create change and opportunity.
It makes sense to capitalize on these moments. Unforeseen events, chance meetings, and bizarre coincidences aren’t just minor distractions; the unexpected is often a critical factor that creates change and opportunity.
As the author, Dr. Busch, writes, “Studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences.”
In my own life, every major career move was the result of a random encounter. As hard and I worked, and as much as I planned, every big opportunity was a diversion off the path.
I would have been a journalist if not for the market collapse, prompting my move to Asia. I wouldn’t have thought of Asia if not for me griping a bartender colleague about the lack of opportunity, and they suggested I teach overseas. In China, I met my best friend.
My desire to earn an MBA came from me helping this friend through a career crisis. I was looking into opportunities prompting me to think about my own career.
And I was dead-set against working for a start-up until a colleague connected me with a friend of a friend.
Luck is a huge part, but none of these opportunities happened in a vacuum. If my brain hadn’t been primed to look for opportunity, I wouldn’t have seen the openings.
In other words, I was looking for a red truck.
The book gives an example of an interesting opportunity that opened up in 2020 when an Iceland volcano erupted, grounding thousands of flights. One stranded traveler was an entrepreneur and blogger Nathaniel Whittemore. Instead of calling it a day and trucking off to find a hotel, he spent the next day and a half organizing the TEDxVolcano conference. It ended up having 200 attendees including world-class speakers and was live-streamed by 10,000 people. That never would have happened if the volcano hadn’t erupted. And it never would happen if Whittemore had not been perceptive and curious about the opportunities around him.
You can cultivate this ability to see the opportunity where others see noise.
Start by reframing the unexpected as an opportunity.
Bad luck depends on where you stop the story.
When an unexpected event happens, instead of seeing it as a negative, open your mind to a new interpretation. Not to immediately find the positive, but to see what you can create with.
Think about when Covid-19 first started; one of those needs was hand sanitizer. A bunch of alcohol distilleries looked around and saw the need and started packaging straight alcohol as a sanitizer. They saw a need and had the tools to fill it.
Identify what you have, and what the world needs and tell someone what you are looking for.
You can’t expect strangers and friends to read your mind. By telling those around you what you’re asking for, you prime their minds to be on the search for opportunity.
Think of your brain like a search engine.
You are asking a question. “What can I do with my career?” or “How do I find a boyfriend?” or stating a need, “I need a new driveway”. When you do this, your brain starts running a google search trying to come up with an answer.
You are primed to see that cute guy at the coffee shop through a new lens (whether it’s as a romantic interest, a driveway paver, or a connection for your career”. By telling your network, you are implanting a search in their minds as well.
To sum it up:
- Ask (the universe, god, your internal self whomever) a coherent question
- Keep your mind open to interpretations of that goal that you wouldn’t immediately expect
- Ask your network to keep their minds open as well
- Don’t immediately frame an event as a negative, and instead look at it as an opportunity for change
- Take action when you see an opportunity
To end, there is an old story about a man who prayed to win the lottery.
Every night, he would plead with God, “Please, god, please let me win the lottery,” but every day he failed to win. After months of this routine, God finally spoke to the man in exasperation, “My child, please buy a ticket.”
It’s a simple story with a simple message.
You can’t just wish for all your problems to be solved.
You need to take action.