Giving serendipity a chance.

Last Friday morning, my day started with a walk downtown to attend Creative Mornings which is a wonderful, local monthly event. Terry McBride was the featured speaker and the theme for May was serendipity.

For a man so accomplished, Terry was refreshingly down to earth and approachable. He talked about listening to his intuition, staying true to his intention and taking advantage of the chance opportunities that have crossed his path. He told some great stories to illustrate how all this has come together for him numerous times, professionally and personally. Then, after Terry spoke, we had our group discussion. One of the things I love about Creative Mornings is that you break into small groups once the speaker is done, so you can compare your thoughts and reactions to what they said. After about 15 minutes of discussion, everyone turns their attention back to the speaker for a Q&A.

Our group of 8 or 9 had a good conversation about being open to opportunities, trusting your gut, etc. Everyone seemed keen to take advantage of serendipity in their own lives but I couldn’t help wondering if they were really giving it a chance. At the beginning of the event, when everyone gathered in the lobby to wait for the doors to open, I had noticed that most people were on their phones. Many had come alone but even people who had come with others were on their phones. All this isolation and distraction strikes me as a dubious way to foster the serendipity that everyone professed to want.

The funny thing is, I think that people who come to this event are generally open to engaging with others and connecting on common themes of interest. In fact, the goal of Creative Mornings, in addition to celebrating the city’s creative talent, is to ‘promote an open space to connect with like-minded people.’ But it is difficult to connect when people are face-down in their screens. And if we can’t connect, how can we expect serendipity to happen?

Now I’m not saying that opportunities can’t come to us online but an event like this is such a wonderful way to connect offline - in person. To me it seems the perfect time to put away devices and be present because you never know who you’ll meet and what might come from that. Having come to the event with that very intention, I had fought my urges and stayed off my phone, with one quick exception to jot down two events I want to look into. As a result, I ran into a former colleague and had an interesting discussion with him about what we’re both up to. It was great to re-connect and who knows? Maybe we’ll be able to help each other in some way because of that chat. I am happy to say that I think we gave serendipity a chance.

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