Breadth = Serendipity?

We live in the era of specialization. A wide, almost jack-of-all-trades, type of knowledge is seen as a lack of resolve (or wit!) or focus. It’s not celebrated as a form of different knowledge which may bring real value to the table. I think that’s a real gap in our modern world.

Take a gander at this old gem by Liz Danzico. It talks about how to answer a professor (well anyone) per Stefan Hagemann, but there are two phrases that stuck with my from this excerpt:

  1. Be interested in a lot of things
  2. Know a little bit about the world around you and make an effort to experience your immediate environment
  3. Broad experience equals (or at least increases the chance for) serendipity

If you’ve forgotten the definition of serendipity (a word I both love for it’s sound and it’s meaning), here:

ser + en + dip + i + ty (n). The occurence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

We can all use a little serendipity in life. And, most certainly, we can all use a bit of serendipity at work. I can credit so much of my personal success to getting these “lightbulb” type moments which were often inspired by almost random things I had read or a passing conversation with a friend who didn’t work in my field or just from playing with my younger nieces and nephews.

I have always encouraged my teams and coworkers to take a long lunch, go get coffee and walk around the block, sit in the park, or read the newspaper. And talk about it, talk and listen and be interested in things outside of our narrow vision.

Go find a little serendipity.

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