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THE PARETO PRINCIPLE ENHANCES SERENDIPITY

THE 20/80 RULE ENHANCES SERENDIPITY

 

Serendipity is the fortunate discovery of something valuable or fortunate that you weren’t actively seeking. While it is unpredictable there are ways to nudge yourself in the direction of more frequent and impactful happy occurrences.

Here is how I use the Pareto Principle to invoke Engineered Serendipity encounters.


The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  Stated otherwise, 80% of results come from 20% of the efforts.  The 20% are known as the “vital Few”.  Hence, I apply this principle to identify areas of my life where a little effort (20%) can yield a high chance (80%) of serendipitous encounters and outcomes.

Eighty percent of our achievements come from 20% of our time.

The 80/20 rule is regarded as a general framework, and the specific applications may vary (70/30 or 90/10) depending on any person’s areas of interests and goals.


Engineered Serendipity is the concept of creating circumstances that increase the likelihood of encountering fortunate discoveries or happy accidents.   For example, you, a literary type, go out for a walk, not looking for anything, when you stumble on a hidden gem of a bookstore you never knew existed. That's kind of the vibe of engineered serendipity.

The key is to identify areas where a small investment of effort (“vital few”), can yield a high chance of serendipity encounter. By being intentionally expectant, open, and persistent, we significantly increase the likelihood of encountering positive surprises and unexpected fortunate opportunities in our life.

Serendipity is a mindset.

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The three top promising areas in our lives that are conducive to valuable serendipity encounters are:


1)       Social Interactions and Social Networking.

The quality of our lives comes down to the quality of the people and experiences that fill it.

·       The 20% Effort.   In my social life I focus on developing relationships with a curated group (- the vital few) – 20% of friends, colleagues, acquaintances who teach me, challenge me and inspire me.  I attend events they recommend, introduce them to my networks, and schedule more one-on-one time with them for lunch or coffee.

·       The 80% Serendipitous outcomes.   This focused effort with a select smaller group of people amplifies the chance of unexpected new social connections, project collaborators, or enhanced new introductions to added new people within their circles of friends and colleagues.

Note: Most everything comes to us from other people.

 

2)       Open Mind for Continuous Learning and Study:

·       The 20% Effort:  I identify and focus on one or two topics that truly pique my curiosity and enhance my professional skills. I try to continuously upgrade my insights in life and my sagacity talents. I expand my knowledge by reading books and learning a second language. Attending public talks, seminars, or joining online communities and classes are common modes of continuing education.

·       My 80% Serendipity Gain:   By immersing myself in the areas of my interest, I've encountered related content, events, and teachers I may have otherwise missed. This leads to unexpected learning opportunities or collaborations. I acquire new skills, participate in projects all of which scales and enhance the quality of my serendipity encounters.

Life is a continuous education program.

 

3)       Adventurism and Exposure to New Environments:

·       The 20% Effort:   I dedicate fraction of my time to exploring new places (museums, parks, workshops). Try new and different activities (volunteering, joining a club).

I travel to foreign countries.  I always ensure that my passport is updated and valid. 

·       The 80% Serendipitous Rewards:   Stepping outside my local Comfort Zone increases my chance of encountering unexpected new people, ideas, and opportunities that may not have come my way otherwise.

Say it Again – the quality of my life comes down to the quality of people and experiences that I surround myself.

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INSIGHTS INTO LIFE VALUABLE SERENDIPITY ENCOUNTERS

Notes of Personal Habits, Activities and Methods to Experience Serendipity.

My Advice - Become a Curator of Your Time:

The most precious asset we have is the time of our life.

The challenge is productive use of Our time.

Shift your thinking – 80% of our results and enjoyment of life comes from 20% of the time we used.  Twenty percent (20%), is the flashing moment of inspired sagacity – when we recognize the serendipitous encounter for what it is – Serendipity.


The first step is to become aware of how we spend our time currently. Track your activities for a week to identify areas where you can free up even a small amount of time (the vital 20%) for centered engineered serendipity efforts. This doesn't have to be a drastic change; even a reallocation of an hour a week can make a significant difference.

Ingenious – there is no shortage of time when we use our time productively.

 

I Set Loose Intentions:

I do it before venturing into a new environment or activity.  I carry a loose intention in my mind. This can be something as simple as "meet someone new in this field" or "learn something unexpected today."

Having a hovering guiding principle helps me, flexibly, to be open to relevant opportunities while remaining adaptable and receptive of the unexpected.

 

I Embrace the Power of an Open Mind:

An open mind runs on a higher gear.

I keep an open mind more than I ever did before.  The key ingredient to engineered serendipity is a mindset of receptivity. I’m willing to try new things.  Being mindful of the present keeps me open to unexpected conversations, invitations, flirtations or detours from my original routines. Sometimes, the most serendipitous encounters happen when we least expect them.

Strike up a conversation with folks who appear interesting.  Explore unexpected exhibits at the trade show, museum, and public fairground.

I’m the first to introduce yourself to new people. It was hard for me to break out of my incarcerating Discomfort Zone. However now I’m the first to introduce myself and shake hands with everyone seated around my lunch table.

I introduce myself using the James Bond style: “Lender. Mandy Lender.”  As I project this confident self-introductory style, the other party is left to wonder: ‘How did I miss him until now?’ 

Expect hidden connections or opportunities that might arise. They always do!

 

Nurturing the Seeds of Serendipity.

Having been introduced I don't let chance encounters fizzle out. I exchange contact information with people I meet. I hand out a gratis copy of my hard-cover book: ‘The Vision of Habakkuk. The Law of Attraction in the Holy Bible.’ I use the hard cover print version of the book in lieu of a business card. People toss business cards but they’re less likely to toss a book.

 I follow up on interesting discussions and take initiative to nurture on the new connections. This involves attendance at social, cultural and commercial events that others recommend.  I may simply send a follow-up email to express your continued interest.

Have you read the ‘Never Eat Alone’ text by Keith Ferrazzi?  Go study it!

 

Problem-Solving and Creativity.

Master Core Creativity Techniques (investing 20% effort).   This will equip you with a solid toolkit of problem-solving frameworks, and tools of brainstorming techniques.  Having a strong foundation in these core methods allows me to approach challenges strategically.  Doing that yields 80% of solutions to later challenges.


Let Your Mind Wander (that is yielding 80% Serendipity).   Sometimes the best solutions come when we step away from the problem entirely. I take breaks to recharge, engage in hobbies that stimulate different parts of my brain. I do yard work around my farmhouse.    I do physical work around my farmhouse and spend time outside in nature.  I take a refreshing nap if I feel like it.  This downtime allows our subconscious to make unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, fostering a creative breakthrough when we least expect it.

By taking these steps, we increase the likelihood of serendipitous encounters to flourish into long-term friendships, friendly collaborations, or perceive new career opportunities.

The ideal balance between focused effort and serendipitous exploration varies depending on your specific goals and personality.

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Learning and Exploration:

Focus on High-Quality Resources (20% Effort).   I dedicate time to curate a select group of reliable sources (books, master classes, courses, podcasts, AI agents) tailored to my interests. This intellectual core collection provides a strong foundation of knowledge and sagacity.

I rely on and trust on the Power of Randomness (that's a 80% Serendipity reward).    Here's where the magic happens.  I step outside my Comfort Zone and actively seek out experiences that expose me to a wider range of ideas and people. I attend conferences on unfamiliar topics, join online communities with diverse perspectives, or participate in workshops that pique my curiosity.  Maven.com is one example. This deliberate "randomness" can spark unexpected connections between seemingly disparate concepts, igniting a spark of creativity or leading me down a fascinating intellectual rabbit hole.

 

Networking and Relationships

I Cultivate Meaningful Connections (20% Effort).   I invest time, money and energy in building strong relationships with select groups of individuals who inspire and support me. These core connections provide a foundation of trust and reciprocity.

I Expand My Rewarding Serendipity Returns (80% Serendipity).   For that purpose I put myself in situations where I can meet new people from various backgrounds. I seek to attend events with a diverse guest list, such as charity dinners, business lunch meetings, and strike up conversations with strangers at gatherings. I’m a member of Toastmasters, my local chamber of commerce, etc.

I consider volunteering for causes I care about (for example medical/health foundations.  These interactions lead me to serendipitous connections and collaborations I never anticipated. Doors open to new opportunities or simply enrich my life with fresh perspectives.

Adventurism and Exposure to New Environments.

I travel to foreign countries. (a 20% effort).  I always ensure that my passport is updated and valid. I’ve done approximately 2,200 commercial airplane boardings in my lifetime.  An international airport is the best place to watch different people and learn about different cultures (20%).

The 80% Serendipitous Rewards:   Stepping outside my local-provincial comfort ‘hood’ increases my chance encountering unexpected new people, knowledge, ideas, and opportunities that may not have come my way otherwise.

Say that again – the quality of my life comes down to the quality of people and experiences that I surround myself.

Why these areas?

The areas described above are fertile ground for Engineered Serendipity because they all share a common thread: They thrive on a delicate balance between intentionality and openness to chance encounters.

By focusing our initial effort on building a solid social foundation (a 20% investment) - we free up mental space (an 80% result) to be receptive to the unexpected opportunities that serendipity encounters brings. The "80% Serendipity" activities in turn open a larger pool of potential connections and ideas, increasing the likelihood of a surprising and positive outcome.

 

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Bonus Tool.   Track your serendipitous experiences!  Keep a journal or use a note-taking app to jot down unexpected encounters, interesting ideas, or helpful connections.  Reviewing these notes regularly helps us identify patterns and refine your approach to engineered serendipity over time. By consciously creating opportunities for serendipity encounters and reflecting on the results, you significantly increase the likelihood of experiencing those fortunate moments where surprise and inspiration collide.


Richard Koch who re-invented the 21th century 80/20 principle says that ”successful people typically don't plan their success.  Instead, they develop a unique philosophy or attitude that works for them. They stumble across strategies which are shortcuts to success, and latch onto them. Events hand them opportunities they could not have anticipated.” 

This last statement is another way of defining Engineered Serendipity.


 

© Mandy Lender MD



Photo credit to Richard Koch book back cover


 

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