Tag Archives: #Happenstance#

Quote from Steve Jobs in Wired (1996):

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Some months back, I asked Mr L if he would join me for a lunch catch up with a mutual ex-colleague, Mr T. We have not met in 14 years. Mr L was busy being angry about everything, his former employer, his PHd application being rejected by XYZ University.

Fast forward to June, I found out that if Mr L had joined me for lunch with Mr T, he could have walked his way into a job vacancy in Mr T’s company.

Is this how Krumboltz’s Happenstance works? Sometimes opportunities whiz by and miss us because we are engrossed in the past.

Lesson learnt today.

As an IJ, unplanned meetings drain me. But think of the exciting future that awaits you from the little step you take.

Fail fast
Success has a humble start. To succeed, we must first be bad at it.

Authors Babineaux and Krumboltz recommend that instead of treating failure as something to avoid, find ways to hash things as quickly as possible to learn from them.

Write a terrible first draft  to get a somewhat better second draft.

If I want to become a serious artist, I must first create trivial art.

Here is my trivial portrait art done at Tanjong Pagar CC. Procrastination, my struggle.


If i want to become a top commercial architect, I must first design inefficient chunky building.

If  I want to be fluent in Chinese, I must speak a lot of horrible Chinese.

Be Curious
I find it to be true from living with my nieces and nephew that young children are curious. Suddenly, they become self conscious. Or rather, they are stuck in front of their handphone.

The authors suggest to create a “Fun to try” list.

My list
Visit SASCO@Khatib
Digital Storytelling video
Mentor a commonpurpose group on social inclusion
Visit Shanghai
Ceramics class
Blog weekly

Curiosity provides energy and helps you learn quickly.

Curiosity gets things moving. Its a bit like freeing a ship stuck in the mud – once you get things moving, all sorts of new things become possible.

Be inquisitive
🐞What are five things I can try to stir up my life?
🐞What is the biggest priority I am ignoring.
🐞If I were ten years younger, what would I do now?
🐞What is most missing in my personal relationship
🐞Given that this is my life, what do I think I really deserve? What is acceptable and what is a waste of time?

Say yes to Opportunity
One “yes” trumps three nos. Give a bonus to new activity that is likely to introduce you to happenstance – new experiences, learning, perspectives, people or places.

I learnt a new chatbot course. Said yes to meeting my friend’s boss. Said yes to signing up for a certification course. Said yes to blogging every week!

Consider the cost of saying no. Overcome procrastination! Its been quite an impactful 2018, can’t wait for 2019.

🍅What are some opportunities you need to say yes to?

🍅What are some new things can you try to feed your curiosity? (Doesn’t harm health or safety)

🍅 Where are your areas of joy?

 Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win by Ryan Babineaux, PhD., and John Krumboltz, PhD.

Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish. Ovid 17 BC.


At Enabling Village

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. Carl Sandburg

‘Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out’, Art Linkletter

15% of students (postgrad or undergrad) I’ve met in universities have an idea where they are going in their career. Majority have no idea. Many feel embarrassed even, that they don’t have a passion.

How can I follow my passion, if I don’t know what it is?

I recently discovered this theory, “Planned Happenstance”, although this theory was developed in 1999 by Mitchell, Levin and Krumboltz.

Planned (having arranged the parts) + Happen (to occur by chance) + Stance (a view or attitude).

‘At the core of this theory is the fact that unpredictable social factors, chance events and environmental factors are important influences on our lives.’ John Krumboltz

Planned happenstance theory proposes that career counselors can assist clients to develop five skills to recognize, create, and use chance as career opportunities.

Happenstance opens up sources of new and non-redundant information. Our destiny can change in that one moment.

These skills are relevant for all of us.

1. Curiosity: explore new learning opportunities. Try a variety of activities, to discover what you like or dislike. A lunchtime talk ? A new sport?

This happened to one of my clients who was at a lunchtime talk at his church and sat next to a headhunter working on a project up his alley.

Or my friend AT, in her thirties, found her lifetime partner, at a friend’s wedding dinner. She nearly did not attend because of work commitments. Its not only in the movies.

2. Persistence: keep trying despite setbacks. Mistakes and failures can provide great learning experiences.

3. Flexibility: change attitudes and events. If things don’t go as planned, look for new opportunities as they crop up. Find out top 3 trends impacting your industry.

4. Optimism: believe that opportunities are within reach. Be ready for it. Pick up that skill now.

5. Risk Taking: take action, small steps even in the face of uncertain outcomes. Have lunch with a different colleague every week. Volunteer to do the next company presentation. Champion a cause at the next Townhall meeting.

In “Fail Fast, Fail Often”, the authors cite Jeff Dyer’s research that people who live in a new country for 3 months are 35% more likely to start a new business or invent a new product.

Some ideas
▪Map your luck, map areas of repetition and sameness in your life and replace with activities that bring new experience.
▪Talk to someone you don’t yet know on your course or place of work
▪Learn how to articulate your strengths and interests
▪Look for opportunities to develop new skills
▪Research a new company/ product
▪Do an internship
▪Get a LinkedIn account for networking, research and exploration
▪Keep a learning journal to help you stay motivated
▪Reward yourself, do an activity you enjoy

More ideas:

Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career. Krumboltz, J., & Levin, A.S. (2004) Impact Publishers.

Planned Happenstance: Constructing Unexpected Career Opportunities Kathleen E. Mitchell Al S. Levin John D. Krumboltz, JOURNAL OF COUNSELING & DEVELOPMENT, SPRING 1999, VOLUME 77

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win: Ryan Babineaux, John Krumboltz