What a Coincidence

Joe —  Tue 12-Jan-10 — 4 Comments
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PasteurHow many good things that have happened to you came because of your diligent planning? I imagine quite a few. Now think hard, how many were the result of a chance opportunity – maybe an opportunity that was pure luck?

As a leader of a Bible study that question comes up quite often. If you are a theist, is coincidence the result of God’s influence in our everyday life or does our Creator not get involved in every day to day happening? If you believe the latter or are a non-theist, is coincidence simply a state of natural synchronicity as conceived by Jung?

Wow – talk about deep, somewhat paralyzing thoughts. Regardless of which formative cause you believe, I think Louis Pasteur simplified things to a point that we can act when he said that “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”A long time ago in Wisconsin if two parties were involved in an auto accident, part of the blame for the accident was assigned to both sides regardless of their actions. The thought was that the accident would not have occurred had both not been there. While that seems rather ridiculous, it states an interesting point; the event would not have occurred without the prepared actions by both that resulted in them both being in attendance.

Think about this for a moment, how could someone be responsible for another party crashing into their bumper? To take it to the extreme one could argue that could never happen if the person took a path where there were no cars. Did the innocent party take the least traveled road? It is also less likely to happen if there are lower speeds. Did they choose the path with the lowest average speed?

Turn that around, suppose someone was trying to have someone else crash into their car for insurance purposes and make it the other person’s fault. Wouldn’t they go the places where accidents are more likely? I’d head straight for the most dangerous intersection in town. Coincidence is more likely when one puts themselves in a situation where the elements of the occurrence exist.

Did you know that if you were struck with lightning once your odds of getting struck again are greater than most others getting struck once? The reason is that you probably have a lifestyle that puts you in a lightning friendly environment more often than the average person. Maybe you take your boat out every weekend or maybe are a forest ranger and live in a fire tower high above the ground? The key is that you are in situations where the elements of the occurrence exist.

If chance only favors the prepared mind, I would venture that part of that preparation is placing oneself in the proper environment. Those that are luckier than others are not; they are lucky because they are likely in environments that favor the chance events. You are not going to roll a 300 if you’ve never picked up a bowling ball.

So back to the original question. Recalling those opportunities that you attributed to pure luck, how many had prerequisites that afforded the outcome? How many of those prerequisites were enabled by your conscious choice? Even if you didn’t overtly realize it, do you think you knew that somehow?

Today’s Question
Think of one thing you would like to happen this week that you think requires a lot of luck. What actions would you take to create environments where the chances of happening are increased?

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Joe

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  • Terri

    Good points, Joe. I have had some lucky breaks in my career. Friends have said “you are so lucky,” but I noticed they were often out to lunch or leaving early while I was at the office being “lucky.” I realized the harder I worked, the “luckier” I got.

    Any upward career path has those opportune encounters because you were in the right place at the right time, and that’s why Woody Allen says 90% of success is showing up. Your sofa is not the right place.

    • Joe

      Terri, Having the luxury of seeing your work ethic first hand I can understand why good things happen to you.

  • http://user-assistance.blogspot.com/ Michael Hughes

    Being in the right place at the right time has been the result of me being a lot of places a lot of times.

    • Joe

      Mike, were you intentionally there in order to afford a better chance of the outcome or were they orthogonal events?