Why Serendipity Is the Skill You Never Knew You Had

Mental Models
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2 Minute
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I could feel my anger rising.

It was Saturday night, and I was scrolling Twitter when I noticed it. A tweet that sat so far away from my viewpoint it polarised me. My urge to crush the keyboard and belittle the offending statement was intense.

Triggered, a simple declaration drew my polarized response: "Serendipity is a skill that can be learned."

But, I paused, and waited for the trigger to subside.

Internally, I ranted. Serendipity is nothing more than luck that offers fortune instead of an unwanted outcome. How can that be a skill, I moaned to myself.

But it also drew a deeper realisation.

We loathe luck because of it what it represents. We fear the unknown —the randomness and sometimes destructive impact of uncertainty. Cast as bad luck when it falls against us, our fear only increases the more it appears.

We shrink further away from instances when luck might grace upon us. By hiding, we stop making decisions. We fail to see that luck is nothing more than a name for the outcome of our actions plus uncertainty.

Action—our action is a facet we control.

And it’s here the flaw in my polarization hit me.

Tilted by my previous experiences, I had allowed my past outcomes to influence my future. Sadly, it was the times when luck fell badly for me.

Serendipity is a skill. But it’s also an opportunity.

It’s the moment uncertainty mixes with your decision, leaving you with an improved path to follow—if you choose. The skill comes in the decision you make. It’s not hiding from the fear of failure, but instead, letting your actions open the doors you want to open.

Sometimes the door won’t open, sometimes it will, that’s the moment of serendipitous luck.

But be alive to the fact, without your actions, your decision, and your skill—the door will never open.

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