When we look at all the “successful” people we know, personally or not, one thing they have in common is that they didn’t set out to do what made them “successful”.
Circumstances made it so they did something or something happened to them and here they are now. They never set out to do this particular thing that made them great in the first place.
Some people call this serendipity. I call it a happy accident. I like “accident” because it can be “positive” or “negative”. Whichever the case, it changes the course of your life and shapes you to be a better version of yourself.
One of my favourite scene from the TV Show Vikings (a little bit of spoiler here) is when King Ragnar lets his army lead an assault and sees them fail. He then proceeds to talk to them. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here: “I didn’t choose to be King. I never aimed for that, but circumstances made it so I gained this power […]”.
Happy accident? Not quite.
Building on that idea:
One of the questions Tim Ferriss almost always asks his guess on his podcast or in his latest book, Tribe of Mentors, is: “How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?”
That is a KEY question.
“Bad” things in life will continually happen to you. Most of the guests talk about a bad experience that ultimately changed their direction and made them who they are today.
Happy accident? Not quite.
So many things happened to me “by accident”. Things I never plan for.
- I didn’t set out to find an awesome wife when I was 17 years old, working in strawberry fields. Yet I did meet her and have been happily married since.
- When I bought my first condo in Montreal 8 years ago, I knew it was a good investment, but I never knew I’d sell it for great profit a year later, helping me getting rid of all my debts and later travel all around the world.
- When I failed to launch my 3rd business, I joined a team who pitched to the same investors and got the funding. I learned so much about business, backend development and made tons of important connections.
- And way way more things.
These “accidents” always lead to other better things. Especially in hindsight.
These happy accidents shape our future. They make us who we are. They help us “succeed” in life.
I’m sure you’ve got accidents that, in hindsight, have been beneficial in your life, and to the lives of people around you. And I bet you don’t even have to look that far.
If we agree that they’re good for us, then here’s the question:
How To Frequently Trigger Happy Accidents?
I’ve got an easy answer for you:
Do and Learn. A whole lot.
Do a lot
“Don’t let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” — https://www.pinterest.com/explore/accident-quotes/
The more things you do, the higher the chance of such events happening.
When someone you haven’t seen for a little while asks you “What have you been up to?”, what do you answer?
A lot of people answer “Same old, same old”. Let’s be honest here, it’s a boring answer.
I don’t want to insult anyone here, but high-performing people don’t answer that. They always have things to say. They try things. They experiment. They do. And it doesn’t have to have meaning. It doesn’t have to be something related to work. New sports, new skills, new languages, new activities, etc.
You never know what can happen from joining a local sports team as an example. Maybe you’ll meet someone who has the right connections in a field you want to get your feet into. And BAM, all of a sudden you’re well connected and perform in a field you really care about. Not because you studied the subject for years, but because you joined a local football team.
I’m a game developer. A few years ago I went hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. I met a very important person working at Sony on the Playstation team. That connection paid off. I never set out to meet him.
Learn a lot
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” — Albert Einstein
For those who have read my stories here, you know I learn 3 new skills every month.
This has changed my life. This has opened many doors.
Recently I got criticism about the deepness at which I do learn these skills. It is true that in one month, it’s hard to go very deep in learning a skill. I try to follow the 20/80 rule, where 20% of the effort leads to 80% of the results, yet they are right about not going deep. I would not become a professional in any of the skills I practice during those times.
But here’s why it’s great nonetheless:
- The more different things you learn, the more patterns you create for your brain to learn other things. The more patterns your brain recognizes, the faster you can assimilate other concepts, in a related field, or something else. That is KEY.
- The more things I learn, the more interesting I become. I can relate to many subjects with many people. A lot of times, my level in those skills is more than enough to carry a great conversation.
- It expands my interests in other things. Being a programmer by trade, I always thought of myself as a logical person, yet I learned that I can draw, speak other languages, give public speeches, write stories and take photos professionally. All that because I dared try it for a month. I didn’t set out to make money writing or taking photos. Yet I do get paid for it now. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be known for one of the simple skills I learned during a specific month, and not my programming.
What are some accidents that happened to you that turned out to be beneficial, for you or for someone you care about?
What are your personal tricks to make them more likely to happen?
The more you do and learn, the higher the chance of triggering these happy accidents.
These happy accidents shape you and make you a better person, a “successful” person.
Do not seek them or they won’t happen. Make them more likely to happen.
Do more. Learn more. Be interesting. Do good. Be happy. Repeat.
You can do this!
Thanks for reading and sharing! :)
First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-to-frequently-trigger-happy-accidents-and-why-it-matters-7fd60d9bfd1c