I think serendipity is one of the most beautiful words in the world.
It has a great origin, if I might add. It is based on a Persian fairy tale in which three princes of Serendip, (now Sri Lanka) traveled the world.
Have a read: http://tiny.cc/1aswr . The word was ‘made up’ by Horace Walpole in 1754.
Needless to say, it is one of my favourite words. I think it’s a magic word.
The general idea: “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…”. I prefer to say it simple: find what you’re not looking for.
Serendipity it’s no sinecure: Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin that way. He wasn’t looking for it, Wilhelm Roentgen x-rays, Pfizer Viagra, Charles Goodyear vulcanized rubber, Harry Hoover stumbled by accident on Post-it’s, not the least of the inventions I would say..
I believe this a very interesting concept and think most of the people find just what they’re looking for. That sounds very boring.
I myself have a few techniques making serendipity happen. One of them I call snoitnevnoc. It’s conventions spelled backwards. The idea is simple: define the conventions and turn them around.
There are two interesting parts.
- You have to know the conventions. This is about knowledge (or curiosity). Knowing the facts, knowing your customer, the trends the competition, the products, everything. If you don’t know this, how can you make good decisions? Many people don’t (hey I didn’t say it was easy!).
- One has to have the guts and the insights to turn them around. Now it gets tricky. Conventions are the way things are usually done, so that is scary. It really gets people out of their ‘comfort zone’. But, it’s the basis for new thinking. Without it it’s hard to come up with something new.
A few years back I wrote some copy for a back pack customer:
“No man ever changed the world by doing nothing. Serendipity is the power of being prepared to discover the unexpected. Mankind’s greatest revelations have been brought into being that way. Therefore it’s wise to keep an open mind and let reality surprise you.”
I think we should all become more serendip thinkers. Not only that, I believe it is necessary to postpone any judging (yourself and others!) and try to see things form a different perspective, with different eyes and new a mindset. You’ll never know what you will find. You’ll never know when you can change the world…