Serendipity is one of my favorite words. I don’t use it often, but I enjoy the way it rolls off my tongue. As much as I enjoy saying it, the stories that accompany its use are even better. After all, who doesn’t appreciate learning of or personally experiencing pleasant surprises or happy accidents? Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy creating opportunities and outcomes through deliberate action. But, I’d be lying if I pretended that the best things in my life happened according to plan. Truth is, very little does. Even truer is that the outcome we realize is usually far better than the script we attempted to write.

As time goes on, I have come to believe less and less in the need for a script and more confident in the law of attraction. By that, I mean that it has become increasingly evident that though things don’t necessarily happen on purpose, they most certainly do not happen by accident. Over the last six months I have noticed an increase in amazing opportunities and even more amazing people flow into my life: opportunities I didn’t directly create and people I didn’t directly invite.

Just last week there were three opportunities that made me reflect on my good fortune. First was a phone call with a junior officer who is working out in Silicon Valley creating opportunities for the Navy. She is someone I have yet to meet, but we bounce ideas off of each other periodically and our partnership will most certainly continue to grow and our influence will increase. Second, was an invitation from the most senior leader in my profession to represent her in a very unique forum and lead the charge on an incredible side-project. She told me that she thought of me in particular, not because of my position, rather my “lack of box thinking.” Third, my favorite artist reached contacted me out of the blue and without solicitation offered to travel from Miami to be a part of a team-building event I have yet to even think about creating. In all three instances, these were not opportunities I created, but opportunities that were an indirect result of my body of work and reputation. The junior officer had stumbled across my blog and decided that we represent the same tribe. The Admiral targeted me because of my history of originality. My favorite artist was inspired by the way I am using his work to inspire my team.

Whether or not we acknowledge it, we all have a reputation and a body of work. Each and every day, we have the opportunity to add to that portfolio of cumulative output and it is that portfolio that informs our reputation. We may not do so in an especially purposeful manner, but we can’t afford to be accidental about it either. I am not saying we should be overly concerned with shaping our reputation, as we have no control and little influence over how others choose to perceive us. Rather, the point is we must share our authenticity and remain aware that we are attracting people and opportunity through our body of work. And yes, the lack of such a portfolio significantly increases the number of opportunities missed.

If we take a moment to evaluate where we are in life, the opportunities that are or aren’t knocking, and the people who choose to be a part of our journey, we’ll learn a great deal about who we are and how we are perceived. We give reason for opportunity to find us. We give reason for specific personalities to seek us out. We give reason for others to perceive us in the way that they do. Serendipity happens, and though it will surprise us when it does, we shouldn’t be surprised that it did.

  • What does your body of work say about you?
  • Who and what opportunities are finding their way to you?
  • Are you sharing enough of your work to allow your tribemates to identify themselves?