How to Increase the Likelihood of Serendipity
A Gen X Reflection
Serendipity is an unplanned fortunate discovery — so obviously not something you can control.
Why, then, do some people seem to be more likely to find unintended and unexpected good fortune?
Generation X has been called the Entrepreneurial Generation. We’re risk takers, innovators, builders and we are highly adaptable.
We’ve had to adapt to the Sharing Economy, with open source/crowd sharing/social networking and collaboration on a global scale.
And adapt we did…
But if we’re honest, some of us have struggled with our ingrained generational worldview that tells us that building something on our own is more valuable than building something in collaboration with others.
Growing up and being able to say “and I did it by myself” garnered praise and recognition. Group work was never on par with an independently completed project.
As a Gen X child, it often felt like the thing being assessed was the creator, NOT the creation. Projects completed with other people were equivalent to cheating in our eyes.
Self-esteem was not something you had a right to; it was something you fought for and faked until it became a battle scar. We were all told, “struggle builds character.”
Good luck finding a Gen Xer without “character.”
The whole concept of valuing independent production over collaboration is not something that the generations after us ever experienced (not our youngest Gen Zs, and certainly not the playdate/group work Millennials) which makes for a challenging multi-generational work environment at times.
So, if collaboration and partnerships and community projects DON’T involve the kind of struggle that “builds character,” how do we reconcile that with our own value?
Professional Networks generate the kind of collective intelligence that can, and is, changing the world for the better. Working together increases our chance of success and creates the conditions for unexpected good fortune.
We know this!
And yet, Gen X would never be considered a “serendipitous” generation.
Is it possible that our generational world view (that independence and self-reliance are preferable to collaboration and teamwork) has been internalized and has contributed, somewhat, to a lack of professional good fortune?
If you belong to Generation X and you feel like you have one foot firmly on the gas pedal in your professional career but you don’t seem to be going anywhere, take a look at the other foot because there’s a good chance it is on the brake.