Good luck isn’t just chance—it can be learned and leveraged—and The Serendipity Mindset explains how you can use serendipity to make life better at work, at home—everywhere.
Many of us believe that the great turning points and opportunities in our lives happen by chance, that they’re out of our control. Often we think that successful people—and successful companies and organizations—are simply luckier than the rest of us. Good fortune—serendipity—just seems to happen to them.
Is that true? Or are some people better at creating the conditions for coincidences to arise and taking advantage of them when they do? How can we connect the dots of seemingly random events to improve our lives?
In The Serendipity Mindset, Christian Busch explains that serendipity isn’t about luck in the sense of simple randomness. It’s about seeing links that others don’t, combining these observations in unexpected and strategic ways, and learning how to detect the moments when apparently random or unconnected ideas merge to form new opportunities. Busch explores serendipity from a rational and scientific perspective and argues that there are identifiable approaches we can use to foster the conditions to let serendipity grow.
Drawing from biology, chemistry, management, and information systems, and using examples of people from all walks of life, Busch illustrates how serendipity works and explains how we can train our own serendipity muscle and use it to turn the unexpected into opportunity. Once we understand serendipity, Busch says, we become curators of it, and luck becomes something that no longer just happens to us—it becomes a force that we can grasp, shape, and hone.
Full of exciting ideas and strategies, The Serendipity Mindset offers a clear blueprint for how we can cultivate serendipity to increase innovation, influence, and opportunity in every aspect of our lives.
Busch, director of the Global Economy Program at NYU's Center for Global Affairs, promises a guide "for deciphering, creating, and cultivating serendipity, step by step" in his underwhelming debut. Unfortunately, the promise remains largely unfulfilled because, as Busch notes, "by definition, serendipity is not controllable, let alone predictable." He consequently rechristens serendipity "smart luck" and claims one can at least "develop the conditions" and see "potentially transformative coincidences" when they occur. Cherry-picked examples, such as a woman who finds a new job through update emails to her friends, and the CEO of a struggling company who lands funding after challenging a job applicant to bring in a contract, illustrate the importance of "connecting the dots," "reframing how we look at the world," and "showing empathy, curiosity, and an ability to listen," but offer scant persuasive power. While references to social science and business research, such as Harvard organizational learning professor Amy Edmondson's illuminating research into "psychological safety" as a performance indicator in corporate culture, are helpful, they again offer broadly illustrative rather than instructive authority. Only those already convinced of the power of positive thinking will be swayed by this work.