THE BLOG
10/13/2014 05:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Courting Life's Treasures Through Serendipity

I keep seeing this meme below floating around on various social media:

2014-10-12-serendipity.jpg

Conversations about serendipity, synchronicity, and chance encounters are never ending and have been going on for hundreds of years.

That's because most treasures in life come in accidental occurrences.

Consider the following arguments

  • Penicillin, Post-it notes, X-Rays, Microwave ovens, Pace makers were all invented as by products. It turns out many inventions result from simple detours or mistakes made by people on alternative quests.
  • Call it divine intervention, call it the universe -- 'help' often does show up when we need it most if you are open to possibilities. This 'miracle' happens when two people or events are drawn to the same time and place based on a similar intention. Often this is referred to as Synchronicity (as defined by Carl Jung).
  • Most of us meet our meaningful relationships -- be it a spouse, a friend, business partners, mentors, or a life changing personal connection -- often from chance encounters.

Let's examine the origin of the word 'serendipity'. It comes from the old fairy tale -- The Three Princes of Serendip. It is the English version of the Peregrinaggio di tre giovani figliuoli del re di Serendippo published by Michele Tramezzino in Venice in 1557. Serendip is the Persian name for Sri Lanka, which was adopted from Sanskrit "Suvarnadweepa" or golden island, or originally from the Tamil "Seren deevu".

This is how the story goes

A long time ago Three Young Princes of Serendip decided to go forth into the world in search of glory and treasures to honor their father and gain his favor.

They decided to not travel as princes but like common men, so that no one would give them any special privileges. They found that by travelling in this manner they found much hardship and human suffering along the way.

But they also discovered, quite unexpectedly, greater good in the most unlikely of situations, places and people. Upon their return home after a number of years of travelling, and telling their father and his court of all they saw and experienced, they decided to commemorate the experience of finding valuable and agreeable things not specifically sought by creating a word.

The word the three princes of Serendip created is "serendipity."

It does not come without effort

As they say: nothing ventured, nothing gained. And now there is much research that shows how accidental occurrences are interconnected. Order can come out of chaos when efforts are made repeatedly, when we are mindful about options and possibilities.

A quest -- whatever it may be -- begins with curiosity and intent.

That intent turns into a devoted journey.

It is only when we zig zag through our journey do we discover our treasures from serendipity, synchronicity, and chance encounters.

We fail to court life's treasure when we don't try. And perhaps the biggest paradox of all is that along with our efforts it's the ability to let go that makes the biggest difference. It's like driving a car without worrying about reaching the destination. The more we enjoy the sights, scenes, and smells more we attract life's miracles.

As Deborah Moggach in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel writes,

The only real failure is the failure to try. And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. We came here, and we tried. All of us, in our different ways. Can we be blamed for feeling we're too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again? We get up every morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters.

But it's also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing; has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So, we must celebrate the changes. Because, as someone once said "Everything will be all right in the end. And if it's not all right, then trust me, it's not yet the end."

Keep the faith my friends, and happy hunting...

Serial entrepreneur and author Faisal Hoque is the founder of SHADOKA and other companies. Shadoka's portfolio of companies (R&D driven products, services, and thought leadership) accelerates individual and organizational sustainable growth. Author of several books, his newest book is "Everything Connects -- How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability" (McGraw Hill, Spring 2014).