Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Introspective: Systems and Serendipity

I recently met with a fellow alumnus of my Alma Mater, BYU (go Cougars!), who had sought out my advice. As I walked him through my brief career to-date, I commented on how serendipitous it sounded when the key events of the past six years were rattled off in quick succession. It's difficult to explain the hard work I put in; the difficult decisions I had to make; and the misfortunes that selective memory has edited from the easy retrieval section of my mind.

What I was able to tell him was that I have not landed where I thought I would have six years ago. My biggest take-away from my experiences is that goals are mostly useless; more specifically, the longer out the goal is the more useless it is. What got me where I am today is a system of looking for opportunities that would put me in a better position for luck to find me. I noted how fortunate I was to have recently read Scott Adams' book "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big", where he talks about this exact concept; otherwise, it would have been much more difficult for me to articulate my journey without using the word "luck" a lot.

"Avoid employing unlucky people. Throw half of the pile of CVs in the bin without reading them."

What I've taken away from that experience is that I need to do a better job of documenting my journey. Without something I can reflect on, it is very difficult to explain to those unfamiliar with my journey that my success is not just a "fortuitous happenstance", a.k.a. serendipity, a.k.a. dumb luck. I feel the same way about luck as Peter Dinklage does, which he explained after making the remark that he felt "really lucky":

Although I hate that word—“lucky.” It cheapens a lot of hard work. Living in Brooklyn in an apartment without any heat and paying for dinner at the bodega with dimes—I don’t think I felt myself lucky back then. Doing plays for 50 bucks and trying to be true to myself as an artist and turning down commercials where they wanted a leprechaun. Saying I was lucky negates the hard work I put in and spits on that guy who’s freezing his ass off back in Brooklyn. So I won’t say I’m lucky. I’m fortunate enough to find or attract very talented people. For some reason I found them, and they found me.

"I hate that word -- lucky. It cheapens a lot of hard work."

By looking for opportunities and making choices that put me in a better position to find luck, I happened to be in the right place at the right time when opportunities presented themselves. I want to be able to tell my story better so that others can better understand and learn from it. This blog will be my primary vehicle for that, along with Twitter and LinkedIn, but I may end up looking at other options as well.

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