Cultivating “Assisted Serendipity”

I came across the term “assisted serendipity” in Ryan Vanderbilt’s excellent Fast Company post about closing the happiness gap at workhttp://bit.ly/A1jwBE. He was talking about how technology “can connect you to other people, skills, tools, and trigger new ways of thinking and working; it can create an “assisted serendipity.” While I agree, I think many of us are relying too heavily on technology and ignoring “old school” ways of connecting with people and ideas that would not only help us thrive in the workplace it would make our lives happier too.

Start small. How many times have you been with friends, coworkers, acquaintances and in the midst of a conversation all of a sudden they become engrossed in something online? We’ve all done it. It’s part of our ADD culture. Make an effort to stay present when you’re with others. If you feel the urge to Facebook realize that you’re bored and make an effort to take the conversation in a more interesting direction.

Shake up your routine. Put yourself in unfamiliar situations. It doesn’t have to be a major effort. Take a different route to work. Walk outside during your lunch hour. Check out a new exhibit or attend a community event. Putting yourself in a position where you’re exposed to different influences and influencers can help you see things differently and exposes you to new people. That keeps your thinking fresh and along the way you may make some new friends.

Learn what others are up to. You never know where the next opportunity may come from—or how you can help others. Make sure you share what you’re doing too—as long as you’re not complaining about it!

Assisted serendipity is a new take on the old adage “make your own luck.” Why not do so in a way that benefits both you—and others?

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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