Serendipity has played a significant role in many of the transformational moments of my life.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines serendipity as "luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for."
Said another way, having something great happen to you that is unexpected.
I have always viewed moments like this as serendipity, though some people may see them as pure coincidence.
And the distinction between how we perceive these moments makes all the difference.
By being mindful of when these serendipitous moments occur, I have been able to take advantage of the opportunities.
However, when we are not mindful, there is a good chance that we will miss the fortuitous opportunities in front of us.
Serendipity on a Plane
In the fall of 2009, US Airways upgraded my brother to first class right before his flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to New York City.
In typical fashion, he and the gentleman seated next to him kept to themselves for the first part of the flight.
But midway through the trip, they introduced themselves and had a great conversation.
It turns out the gentleman seated next to my brother was the CEO of a successful consulting firm in Charlotte.
Near the end of their conversation, he expressed interest in hiring my brother. But my brother had just finished business school and was content with his job in New York City.
So, doing what any good sibling would do, he mentioned that his younger brother (me) was working for Bank of America in Charlotte and might be interested.
The CEO handed my brother his business card and suggested I give him a call.
I called the next day and found myself the sitting in his office having a great ninety-minute conversation the following morning.
At this point, I was in complete disbelief of my unexpected good fortune.
But the serendipity did not end there.
While walking out, the CEO introduced me to his head of management consulting. And this gentleman just happened to have graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South (where I grew up in Tennessee) and knew my father.
Within six months, they offered to hire me as their first consultant with less than ten years of financial services of experience.
And the next six years were the most transformational (personal, professional, spiritual) growth years of my life.
This transformation was only possible because I recognized the serendipitous nature of the meeting on the plane and had the courage to pursue the opportunity.
Be Mindful & Courageous
The most efficient way to prepare to be mindful of serendipitous moments is to have faith and optimism for the future.
In 2009, Bank of America was in the middle of the Great Recession, and the most tumultuous two-year period of its existence.
There was a huge question of what would happen to the bank, let alone what would happen to my group that managed the integration of big mergers.
Through all the turmoil, I kept the faith and optimism that everything was going to work out for me.
And this mindset allowed me to recognize the importance of my brother's serendipitous meeting on the plane.
Nonetheless, my experience is not unique.
Serendipity happens to all of us.
However, only those of us who are mindful enough to notice and courageous enough to pursue the opportunity will reap the benefits.