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A major portion of our success in our lives and careers comes down to luck, according to a recent CNN article. The people likely to be the most successful in their career development path may in fact not be those who are singularly driven to one set goal but instead those who are more able to be flexible and take advantage of serendipity.

And what exactly is serendipity? CNN defines it as “the ability to take a chance occurrence – a surprising idea, person, or event – and make creative use of it.” Although it is such a useful tool, many of us have trouble actually using it in our lives.

The Difficulties of Challenging the Status Quo with Serendipity

1. Tunnel Vision

Our brains make sense of the world by compartmentalizing. We often subconsciously filter our intake to reflect our existing worldview. Basically, according to the CNN article, “We are psychologically wired to find the things that match our expectations and discount what doesn’t.” With such things going on in our brains, it is sometimes difficult for us to see outside the box and take advantage of chance occurrences, which makes challenging the status quo more difficult. We need to practice broadening our vision of the world, since “peripheral vision is how we discover new opportunities and adapt to a rapidly changing world.” Indeed, it is a more open mind that will lead to stronger career development.

2. Lack of Work-Life Balance

Challenging the status quo is also difficult when we don’t give our brains enough time to operate outside of our work. If you work a lot and don’t allow time for leisure and a variety of interests, your brain can get further stuck in a rut. Entrepreneur Thor Muller asserts in his CNN article that:

“Dedicating time to non work-related interests helps us distance ourselves from our primary tasks. This distance allows us to make the connections across domains that lead to insights and innovations.”

Basically, spending time on more different things helps us to think more creatively and have a better chance of making serendipitous connections.

Challenging the Status Quo with Serendipity

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