Recently I have followed a lot of serendipity related discussions, for instance here, and understand that a couple of issues should be highlighted – first the personal character of serendipity experience and secondly the characteristics of the traps, which will prevent us to notice – not even to talk about taking action – when serendipitous encounter or moment is happening.
It’s evident, that serendipity is a subjective, a very personal experience. Like Stephann Makri in the previous blog noticed, serendipity has three elements: unexpectedness, insight and value. All those elements can be studied only from personal perspective. In many cases the decisive moment is closely related to the insight – the ability to discover something not necessarily in front of you – or to discover new ways of thinking while experiencing something unexpected. Same applies with value, something might turn out to be very valuable to you, but for no value for somebody else. And here comes also a dilemma – the value of some accidents or encounters might be understood months, even years after the actual moment. So, sometimes serendipity takes time to evolve, and it always requires a certain type of action in order to be harnessed.
But not only is the serendipity a personal experience, also the traps, which will prevent or delay you to experience serendipity, are very personal. What are these traps then? Joseph Jaworski is using the term trap to refer to anything that causes a regression to old ways of thinking and acting, and thus hinders our becoming a part of the unfolding generative process. He describes in his book ”Synchronicity” the traps of responsibility, dependency and overactivity in a detailed way.
The traps have a background in our individual way of thinking and acting, and most of the traps are highly personal, so we have to find our own ways to identify the traps. It may be helpful to know, that even though the traps are very powerful, at a deep level there is very little substance in them. The consequences of falling into a trap are unpleasant, feelings of loosing the flow and creativity and noticing that the synchronicity suddenly disappears.
Those types of traps described by Jaworski can be harmful also when trying to be open to serendipity. The trap of overactivity is especially harmful and also difficult to notice, the more you lose the grip of managing things, the more you stick with something you have started . To become stubborn and sticking to the plan and working harder – is surely not helping to discover the opportunities around us. In these situations we come close also to the trap of dependency, the attitude to depend on one plan, on “vital” key resources – and this trap generates a lot of it’s energy from the fear of no alternative. To discover that there are always alternatives, is the way to release our serendipitous potential.
During the years of my ”serendipity journey” I have developed certain ways of avoiding some personal traps, here are some proven advice, which may help also you to avoid being ”trapped”:
1) keep your calendar serendipitous –> mark ”SS” (serendipity slots) randomly to your calendar for one month in beforehand
2) keep your vision clear and fresh, commit to the vision, not to the route how to get there
3) keep on planning, but don’t make plans — > have no plans to follow, but put a lot of emphasis of being prepared for the unexpected
4) be aware of your mixture of strong and weak ties and structural holes in your network -> too many strong ties will increase your responsibility and dependance and lead to overactivity, weak ties may provide unexpected information
5) keep a relaxed mind and understand the difference between ”to concern” and ”to worry” – be concerned about things you are able to change, don’t worry anything else!