The Serendipity Mindset by Christian Busch [Book Summary – Review]

You might assume each day is more or less the same as the last one. But in fact, the unpredictable happens all the time around us. To see it, all you require are the proper eyes and the correct mentality. 

This is a mentality that you will continue to bring to your life and career now, based on realistic and enforceable guidance. Every day it is easy to put on blinders and just get on autopilot during the work shift. But this is the type of mentality that makes it easy for so many of us to skip the thrilling interactions that wait every day to be formed. And as you begin to see these possibilities, you will learn that life is full of serendipity, and you will never be the same. 

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Chapter 1 – There are numerous types of serendipity, but they are all distinct from the draw’s “blind” luck – they are about creating “smart luck.” 

What precisely is serendipity? The term itself traces back to 1754 when it was used by the British author Horace Walpole to define a type of observation that was made spontaneously, by mistake, or by some foresighted knowledge known as perspicacity. 

More or less, this concept has existed for a long time. For our intentions, when the acts clash with an opportunity, we will think of serendipity as a good thing, one created. This suggests that serendipity is distinguished from sheer opportunity or chance of its own.

Broadly speaking, three kinds of serendipity exist: 

The Archimedes Serendipity is the first. This is when you are hoping for an answer to a particular issue and the solution comes unpredictably. The nickname came from the tale of how Archimedes overcame the issue with the crown of King Hiero. King Hiero feared that it could not be true gold for his new crown. He relied upon Archimedes, then to come up with a test that would give a response.

Archimedes was looking it through. And he went to public baths after his creative thinking. There, serendipity hit. As people sunk themselves into the pools, Archimedes observed how the water levels increased. 

He found immediately that various metals replaced various volumes of water. Then what you had to do was calculate how much water gold might shift, and equate it to how much water the crown of Hiero moved. If they weren’t the same the crown wouldn’t have been pure gold, it would have been a fake!

The serendipity of the second form is Post-It Note Serendipity. This is where a solution to a problem that was not even mentioned at the time is spontaneously uncovered. The name derives from the Post-It Note. They were created when a researcher for 3M, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to create a new form of solid glue. Attempt one falls short. It was not at all sticky. Yet Silver was interested to explore this poor glue’s ability. For the Post-It Note, it finally became the right component.

Ultimately, there’s the Serendipity Thunderbolt. This is anytime you’re hit by an answer from nowhere, as the name implies. You have not discussed any particular issue or investigated any specific solution. You were just going through the day when an opportunity and an interesting new chance introduced itself out of the blue. 

Often, serendipity might be a mixture or modification of these forms. But there aren’t cases of blind chance, no matter what. As we’ll find out, as long as you have the correct attitude, landing on serendipity is something you can facilitate. 

Chapter 2 – Serendipity is generally about linking points that have been obscure before. 

It is crucial how we view or look back upon serendipity. It will potentially make a major difference in the chances that serendipity will arise in the future. 

For instance, even though it is one of those thunderbolt encounters, we shouldn’t think of serendipity as a single occurrence. We should think about it as a method instead. Serendipity is always the product of seeds placed weeks, months, or years ahead of time. If it’s finding a benefit that has not been seen before or taking an inference that has not been drawn before, it often demands anything in you. 

The creation of penicillin was one of history’s popular stories of serendipity. Some of the information may be recognizable to you: One day, Dr. Alexander Flemming came to the laboratory to learn that some of the Petri dishes were inadvertently left exposed, resting on a window ledge. 

He had been dealing with infectious bacteria and was shocked to learn that the dishes had turned moldy, and the bacteria had disappeared around the mold. Now some professionals may have only reflected on the error of uncovering the dishes and returning to what they were doing in the first place. In reality, other researchers had already found that bacteria could be destroyed by mold, but they did not link the dots and further investigate this. 

Flemming was intrigued, though. Here he saw the chance. He was open to the possibility and discussed with close colleagues his thoughts. To the serendipitous outcomes, this excitement and transparency were crucial. 

So when it comes to developing the best mentality, this is one of the important things to be mindful of being perceptive, interested, open-minded, and willing to find possibilities where some might see only negativity. This also needs a mindset that is attentive and insightful, the kind that not only detects something odd but can relate that bit of data to something else. 

Chapter 3 – Being sensitized and vigilant to serendipity suggests that unconscious prejudices are let go.

Do you ever think that you are a glass-half-empty sort of person? To the best of us that will occur. Probably, it goes hand-in-hand with human behavior to have prejudices and preconceptions, but it does not mean it’s beneficial in existence. As far as serendipity goes, it can be a big obstacle to have rigid, unshakeable prejudices. 

Four prejudices have been established by the writer that may hinder the progress of serendipity. 

The first is to undervalue the unpredictable. This is the kind of mentality where someone feels life is full of the foreseeable, the boring, and the expected. 

This mindset in the corporate world has been exceptionally prevalent. In general conservative methods have concentrated on continuity and doing what has succeeded in the past. But now we have access to the volume of info, and how rapidly things are evolving, it becomes apparent that no matter how hard you want and schedule and organize, the unpredictable still happens.

The second bias is majority-compliant. This is again a very normal bias to have. Sticking to the majority’s viewpoints and ways of doing stuff is safe and secure. Yet this may potentially contribute to a group mindset that is self-censoring and not conducive to taking advantage of unexpected innovations.

The writer works as a business analyst, and one of his strategies is to find a high-traffic place somewhere in an area where he can sit down on his desktop and listen to what people think. It could be next to a lunchroom or a fridge for water. It offers him an opportunity to get a feel of what the atmosphere at the business is like. Is it one that encourages or suppresses free-thinking?

When people gather together to chat about how dumb it was for someone to speak up at a conference and suggest a new idea, so he acknowledges that this is a poor culture for creativity and serendipity. 

This leads us to the third prejudice: post-rationalism. A big reason to be suspicious about serendipity is that we prefer to look back on an unexpected phenomenon and turn it into a predictable event. This is linked to “bias of hindsight,” because it is a human thing to do. Anything that happens is more pleasant to think of as being a logical part of an overarching plot, not as a collection of wild, unpredictable events. 

There’s practical fixedness, ultimately. This is where you acquire strengths or certain talents and it becomes the only way you want things to be achieved. In other terms, you want one solution to any problem. Let’s pass on to the next section for a clear example of this. 

Chapter 4 – Great instances of having a serendipity mentality are organizations such as RLabs.

The Western way of helping nations who aim to raise themselves out of deprivation is a perfect instance of the functional fixedness bias. There’s just one way of doing it with certain human rights organizations: the Western way. So if a nation doesn’t have the “best” type of resources, the organization will throw its hands up and say, “Sorry, we can’t do anything to help.”

Luckily, in their reasoning, not all institutions are so set. Take RLabs, a nonprofit organization out of South Africa, short for Reconstructed Living Labs. This is a group of free-thinking people in places like Iringa in Tanzania who are seeking better societies, and they do so by seeing meaning where some have just seen issues. 

RLabs are not seeking to enforce a predetermined way on the groups to whom they reach out to do stuff. Rather, even though it’s empty parking lots and crack dealers, they come up with ways of dealing with what’s there. These garages, for instance, may become teaching facilities and are admired for their resourcefulness and networking abilities by former drug traffickers. 

The willingness of the people at RLabs to perceive unexpected meaning in the cultures in which they operate has far-reaching consequences. Their strategies will inspire, motivate, and offer some much-needed integrity to individuals. It’s almost the reverse impression made by certain fixed-thinking Western organizations. 

The fact is there are typically a lot of ways to fix an issue or get things done. When it comes to financing as well, this has been evident in Sub-Saharan Africa. The shortage of ATMs and facilities for traditional walk-in local banks for years has left global banks failing in most of Africa to make inroads.

But then arrived at the MPesa mobile money transfer app, which effectively takes care of a lot of banking needs, all from a mobile phone’s comfort. It became the go-to service for millions of Kenyans within years of being released. MPesa showed that to be efficient, a bank doesn’t need ATMs. It might sound clear now, but because of their functional fixedness bias, this is the type of creativity that profitable organizations do not see.

Chapter 5 – Keep based on a significant north star to stay vigilant and inspired. 

On a day-to-day basis, what encourages you? Is it cash? Or are you hunting for a more important thing? 

There is a fair possibility that you have read or learned something about the Hierarchy of Needs of Maslow. This was formulated over 50 years ago by the thinker Abraham Maslow, but it has made a profound impact and continues to affect much of the social philosophies of today.

In brief, the hierarchy of Maslow implies that simple items such as food and protection first motivate people. People are therefore attracted by sex and relationships until it is protected, and only afterward, after all the lower needs are fulfilled, are they obsessed with loftier things such as spiritual satisfaction. It seems rational, but this is a concept that is being questioned at present.

It’s not surprising for young adults to come out of the gate these days with their attention on value, rather than cash. In fact, for young idealists, this change is not isolated, it is something that is popping up across all age ranges. 

There is a strong explanation for people choosing to be purpose-driven instead of money-driven, according to Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of the crowdfunding site Indiegogo: it sounds a lot safer and is more satisfying in the long run. As she understands it, it can be frustrating to push your core beliefs to the side to turn up for the day job. Hiding your true self from nine-to-five every day requires resources. Being real, remaining true to yourself, and finding a way to mix intention with a payout is the better way. 

This is also essential for serendipity since a tired mind would not be ready to catch the unpredictable and make useful ties. Rather it is the centered mind, which is founded on what the writer terms a northern star or a guiding theory. 

Optimally, your North Star isn’t a target you’re going to hit before you turn 40, but a continuing goal, desire, or fascination that will continue to inspire you forever. It may be as easy as supporting people who are disenfranchised or disadvantaged. 

Your serendipity will always have a reason with your north star in place; you will always have a guide of how to behave And you’ll be better trained to take advantage of it as the inevitable happens. 

Chapter 6 – In basic ways, you can improve the odds of serendipity. 

You should have a fairly clear sense at this stage about the sort of state of mind that is perfect for detecting and acting on serendipity. So let’s see what we can do with our lives to produce more of that. 

Sure, the entire definition of serendipity is that it’s spontaneous and unforeseen, but it doesn’t suggest that you can’t improve your life’s odds of it becoming a daily event. 

The consequence of converging theories is always serendipity. When you combine different items, such as art and science, in the case of DaVinci or Steve Jobs, it is the spark of spontaneous insight that may arise. So it is fair that whether you maximize the number of components or the number of potential variations, serendipity is more likely to happen. 

Let’s say you’re like the poet, and you want to get to a decent college, even though to say the least, your high school grades haven’t been outstanding. You’re ready to continue studying, though so you write a sincere article describing your hopes of making a difference in the world one day.

You should only submit this essay to your top three schools along with your submission. Or by sending it to hundreds of schools, you might boost your odds. You’ll raise the chance that your essay will fall on the desk of someone who will connect to your story by throwing a broader net, someone else who failed in high school but progressed in college. 

You want to construct opportunities because no matter what the present conditions are, you can do this in a variety of ways. In the expectation of getting a serendipitous outcome, some people have sent out a group email to everyone on their phone contacts, or to people they have never met. Maybe you’re shocked to see how much it works. 

On other occasions, in a lift or a Zoom conference, it may be an opportunity meeting, but those meetings involve an enthusiastic desire to take risks, be sociable, and present yourself. Patience is required as well. Perhaps it can take years for someone’s business card to become a case of life-changing serendipity. But as we can see in the upcoming pages, stuff like that happens. 

Chapter 7 – For serendipity to happen, there are basic steps for laying the foundation. 

Recall the 2010 eruption of the Icelandic volcano? One of the factors it’s so unforgettable is that it took air traffic to a standstill between Europe and the US. Planes were suspended because of the amount of smoke and soot in the air, and several persons had to modify their schedules abruptly. 

Businessman Nathanial Whittemore was one such individual. But as some individuals shook their fist at mother nature to wreck their plans, Whittemore made the most of this unforeseen occasion. By calling out to friends and individuals from his connections and rapidly bringing together the case that became TEDxVolcano, he converted it into a great serendipitous chance. This unexpected symposium on innovative entrepreneurship grouped hundreds of specialists and included a Broadcast that thousands more attended. 

How has Whittemore turned serendipity into a volcanic eruption? He was ready, he knew the risk, and to optimize his abilities, he used the resources he had at his fingertips. 

To start with, Whittemore was part of an influential culture. In reality, first of all, his justification for traveling was to be a member of the Skoll World Forum, an international social entrepreneurs’ gathering. He was also an influential member of the writer’s co-founded social network, Sandbox, which sought to bring people together for innovative projects and, yes, to raise the opportunity for serendipitous creativity. He was also acquainted with the persons who ran the TEDx gatherings, which helped.

In brief, Whittemore had a web of different individuals that were powerful and stable. This type of network doesn’t need to be huge, but it needs to be managed periodically. Although it can be nice for conventions and online forums to create casual relations, serious ones need to be held in good shape by occasional emails, conversations, or other kinds of contact to ensure that they do not fade away.

Apart from social media sites where everyone can participate, one of the positive things about well-curated social media platforms like Sandbox is that the connections come with a certain level of validation that makes them better instantly. 

But popular social media sites such as Twitter can also be valuable to express your passions and trigger unforeseen serendipitous encounters with knowledge. When someone else might appreciate one of your posts and put a word in to have a thunderbolt opportunity that might transform your life, you never know. Actually, in the last section, we’ll look at such a case. 

Chapter 8 – Serendipity can require years to grow, so it also takes patience. 

Grit or persistence is another function of the serendipity mentality. With failure, flawed projects, and near misses, the path to serendipity is always filled. Many founders would tell you that before they eventually discovered the concept that worked with investors, they were ignored numerous times. 

It’s perseverance you crave. Not only because it can take a while for the right chances to show themselves, but because drawing the crucial dots also takes time for the mind. 

While it can be a crucial part of setting the scene for serendipity to have a decent supply of varied people around you it also requires dedication and persistence. 

The tale of Daniel Spencer offers a clear instance of this. Though Spencer had a nice job at Apple, photography was always his joy. To practice photography full-time, he finally left Apple, starting up a studio named Turn and Shoot Photography. 

Initially, Spencer took typical photographs and headshots of high quality. Yet he was still interested and attentive, watching for odd signals that could or may not be related because he had the right mentality for serendipity. For starters, he found that there was this pattern of spinning images on television and blogs that would include a 360-degree view at items like a new pair of shoes or characters from a computer game. 

A concept hit him: rotational headshots. He’d had lots of experience making headshots for actors, and understood that casting agents would frequently ask actors to switch this direction and that during the casting process. And then with this revolutionary vision of making revolving, 360-degree headshots for stars, he sat down for several months. He was a little afraid, like all of us. What if he started with this on a branch and it failed? 

Then he saw a commercial campaign on Facebook to win a massive, heavy-duty turntable, able to rotate a standing human. What were the chances? He walked in and he won. Many of the pieces fell into line. He started checking his headshots on acquaintances now and reached out to a modeling agency who decided on their website to advertise his services. 

The most surprising thing, though, was that his company was called Turn and Shoot from day one. It was as it was supposed to be. 

Chapter 9 – Cultivating serendipity means providing a secure environment for different minds to mix new thoughts. 

Let’s presume that you have a business of your own and want to encourage as much serendipity as you can. Well, you’re not by yourself. Progressively, a lot of corporations do exactly that. They know that trends are evolving rapidly these days and it just doesn’t make sense to depend on continuity and constancy anymore. 

So what kind of society and institutions are meaningful? 

Essentially, you don’t want the kind of business that ridicules individuals for coming up with fresh or innovative concepts. You want to establish a comfortable environment where individuals not only feel comfortable to express their opinions, but also feel confident to try and struggle without risk of being penalized or losing their jobs. 

From the top-down, this sort of setting also needs to be motivated. And it’s up to the founders to say to all that to be successful, the business needs their voices and thoughts. If serendipity is to exist, the free exchange of information would involve it.

To inspire workers and make them more secure in making their own choices, many firms now abandon the normal corporate system. It is often a smart step to encourage serendipity since the chance window for reaping the benefits of serendipitous situations is often brief and involves swift action.

Companies are now breaking down the boundaries between various divisions that used to exist, and maybe no business provides a better instance of this than the Pixar animation company. The studio was intentionally built to optimize cross-pollination between the three major departments: animators, supervisors, and computer engineers, recognizing that combining different concepts is essential to creativity. Constructed around a single atrium, every day it causes these three teams to mix and blend.

It’s important to ensure that the workers can collaborate and exchange input. But listening to the consumer is critical, too. It was customer input at a Chinese consumer appliance firm that contributed to one of the company’s most uncommon innovations. It noticed that many individuals used their washing machines to wash potatoes, and then protested about the issues caused by the build-up of dust this produced.

But it was hit with the thought rather than recommending people against this activity: why not create an automatic vegetable washer? 

Even if it is derogatory, don’t disregard suggestions. In the mentality of serendipity, the most beautiful and imaginative results can be caused by challenges, grievances, mistakes, and even active volcanoes. 

Chapter 10 – Navigating instability with an attitude of serendipity with COVID-19. 

So far, 2020 has been a tough year. The several chances for serendipity that emerge from in-person encounters have been stolen from us by physical space. Many of the typical starting points of serendipity happen less often, such as coincidentally stumbling into someone in the hallway or the famous “watercooler moments”. 

But you can also do a lot to cause serendipity, which at times of confusion is essential. After all, often solutions, concepts, and resources appear to come from unlikely sources during unpredictable periods. 

So what in these confusing times would you do to cause serendipity? Here are several easy techniques to use. 

Let’s begin with setting the hooks for serendipity. Setting lines is all about providing future dots for people to communicate with. And you can alter the way you interact and pose questions, particularly through Zoom, to help accomplish this.

When someone questions you at a virtual meeting, for instance, or Zoom calls the famous “what are you doing?” question, several potential “points of contact” can be given to them. You can reply along the lines of “I’ve been focusing on x, recently been involved in y, and just started investigating z.” This opens up the potential “wow what a coincidence, I just started looking at Xyz! ” occasions. 

Then, let’s talk about taking risks, preparing places to take place for serendipity. In need of a new career or internship? If you concentrate on having a certain position or doing a certain thing, you minimize future opportunities or options in your profession. Rather if you look at the possible options that could be accessible to someone with your talents and be open to the unlikely ones that someone might inform you about, that’s when the wonder occurs. Working on the side of individuals you respect is a perfect place to start this. This is a productive way of getting yourself on their mind and being there if a role pops up randomly. 

Let’s move on to the causes of planting serendipity. One of the easiest ways to do this is to recognize the individuals you most respect and their contact information you will publicly find on LinkedIn, homepages, and so on via InMail. Send a frank letter to these statistics about how they’ve influenced your life and how you want them to be part of your path. If you do this a lot of times people tend to write back in a frank and non-pitchy manner. Some of them can “accidentally” operate on items that conflict with your talents, experience, or tasks. 

Ultimately, taking the long view is important. COVID-19 and the associated economic uncertainty have become a warning that anything, least of all our professions, can not be prepared. But what will 10 years from now actually matter? It also depends on “bad luck” when we stop the plot. If a worker fell through, for instance, we ought to take the long view. We should try to redefine the circumstance as a potential for development, contemplation, transformation, and resilience for progress. 

Since in the longer term, the gap between stimuli and reaction is where our production and serendipity reside. 

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck by Christian Busch Book Review

Hope. Interactive. Tolerance. Interest. Persistence. Resilience. These are some of the serendipity mindset’s main attributes. You will search out and welcome the unpredictable with this mentality and use these rare opportunities to make fresh and interesting connections. In this state of mind, as you continue to view the universe, you will begin to see that every day is packed with the unpredictable and possibilities to inspire new serendipitous thoughts and inventions. For corporations as well this remains true. With a few cultural and environmental improvements, you will continue to set the scene for more imagination and serendipitous events to happen. 

Here is some of the writer’s most implementable guidance. 

Build a Journal on Serendipity. 

Setting up a journal for serendipity will help you focus on unforeseen events, how you adapted to them, what to do next time differently. As a chance for serendipity to unfold, it helps you to focus on how to approach any interaction or encounter, interactive or real life. 

Open place for imagination.

In specific sessions, you will focus on your everyday routine tasks. What are the very important meetings? Does the amount of time they’re given still require them? Can you reorganize them to open up artistic space if they’re under your power? 

Get acquainted with your main multipliers. 

Have you ever traced your network out there? You can make a picture with pen and paper that can show the people who are most linked in your social groups. Strengthening your relationship with these individuals can be worth your time. 

So it’s not just about the persons on your list of contacts. Usually, the most social capital in your culture is held by the delivery guy, coach, rabbi, yoga teacher, waitress, or hairstylist. When was the last time you said hello to these densely networked people and started up a chat? Let them know about your ideas and there’s always a possibility they’ll know someone else who could hold the secret to the next serendipitous case.

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Savaş Ateş

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