Have you come across the word serendipity before? I tried searching for it on dictionary.com today, and discovered that they did not have the word? (Later discovered I was looking for serependity rather than serendipity :)) I kept searching other sources and I was able to get a definition at wikipedia. This defines seredipity as follows
Serendipity: to make discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things not in quest of.
I knew the word serendipity as far back as when I was in secondary school, I read a book back then and it seemed the entire theme of the book was centered around that word. If I remember correctly, I think the title of the book even had serependity in it. It was a story of strange miraculous events happening within a hospital. The question on my mind this morning is, “Is serendipity real?” Is it possible to really make discoveries by accident and sagacity? By the way Sagacity means the quality of being discerning, sound in judgement, and farsighted. Do discoveries come the way of people not in search of them? I don’t agree do you? I am willing to be convinced.
I remember making a reference to serendipity in an article some while back. It is human nature I guess, to rejoice at occurences, rather than find out if a pattern exists to the occurences and hence see if the event can be reproduced. Maybe I’m Logic Smart, I easily find patterns in things. I believe when you understand the patterns anything is replicable. If you know how each element in a car works you can make a car! Anything that remains mystified cannot be reproduced.
In my study of serendipity, I discovered that the definition of serendipity is flawed. Yes, discoveries seemed to be made accidentally, but then they were not accidents that could have happened to anybody. They were accidents that had a cause. Before I start sounding too theoretical, here are the examples that give credence to my claim. The list of things that are attributed to serependity are alarming. Try these for size.
Post It Notes, Penicilin, Pacemaker, Cornflakes and Wheat flakes, Ivory-brand soap, photography, safety glasses, Microwave Oven, Achimede’s theorem, Isaac Newtons theories of gravitational pull, vacination, bioelectricity, the first oral contraceptive, anti-cancer drug- cisplatin, viagra, quinine and many more. All these were discovered by so called accident!
What I find particularly interesting however is how easily we miss certain similarities in the process involved in every one of these innovations. Yes, serendipity, but was it also serendipity that the process that gave birth to each serendipitous discovery was similar? I dare say, that by behaving in a certain way it is possible to initiate events that generations ahead will lazily term serendipity. If you do the things they all did, you too might be witnessing some serendipity soon. The question is what are the similarities?
1. They were all looking for something! Haven’t you wondered why the apple that is quoted to have fallen on sir Isaac Newton’s head, never fell on your grandfather’s head. You know what I think? I think it did, but he probably just cursed a few times and moved away 🙂 Why, because he wasn’t looking for anything desperately. If you want to experience serendipity, be on a search! Eureka is the shout that punctuated Archimede’s discovery, it means “I have found it”, tell me, how do you find without searching?
“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.” Lawrence Block
2. They were all somehow prepared to see the opportunity! First I’ll like you to notice that all of these discoveries were made by scientists. This shows there is something about the mind of a scientist. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a prepared mind if you are an art inclined person, it only means there is a way you might want to consider thinking. What are the characteristics of a prepared or as the case may be, scientific mind? The scientific mind is curious and factual. When curiousity is undaunted in the face of lack of factual answers, the RAS is tuned to pick stronger signals.
“In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur
3. They all found something bigger than they were looking for! The results of this acts of serependity were either more money, better healthcare for all, more convinience or summarily abunadance. The progression was towards more, or better. The system of operation of the world, your company, your community is designed to make more move towards you, but you need to be the initiator. If you are looking for nothing…you’ll probably get something bigger, trouble!
“Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer’s daughter.” Julius Comroe Jr.
When you set your routine on a search, prepare your mind and move into action, look out for whatever happens, for somewhere in their lies the key to more! I really wished I had the space to write about 5 of the serendipity inventions. So interesting, believe me. By the way, are miracles serendipitous?