You’ve probably had the experience of coming across a new word, looking it up in the dictionary, then noticing that the word appears all over the place.
Or you start thinking about taking a trip to Paris and the next thing you know Woody Allen has a movie coming out called Midnight in Paris. A few days later, you strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop and they mention they’ve just come back from Paris.
While we often think of such happenings as synchronicity, I believe there’s another factor at work here. I call it selective awareness. Something grabs our attention and we continue to tune in on further encounters with that thing.
It doesn’t have to be a totally random experience, however. We can consciously decide to pay attention to things that will add to our adventure or further our goals.
It comes as a surprise to me, then, that so many would-be entrepreneurs don’t seem to be gathering stories and support for their own successful self-employment. As Caroline Myss reminds us, “We evolve at the rate of the tribe we’re plugged into.”
Here are just two examples of things that have appeared on my personal radar screen
A couple of years ago, I boarded a Southwest flight and promptly took the in-flight magazine out of the seat pocket. I was thrilled to see the theme of that issue was entrepreneurship and settled in to explore.
The first thing I read was Jay Heinrichs’ editorial. I loved it so much that I now share it in some of my seminars. Here’s how it begins:
“There are two kinds of people in the world: entrepreneurs and naysayers. I belong to the second group. In my own experience, one characteristic distinguishes entrepreneurs from naysayers. Entrepreneurs never follow the advice of people like me. Not to brag, but I’ve naysayed some of the finest business ideas of the past three decades.”
This amusing piece was a fine reminder to beware of dreambashers. The rest of the issue was filled with stories of people who had done just that and built terrific businesses.
Of course, I took the issue with me when I deplaned.
My artistic granddaughter and I share a fondness for the work of Mary Engelbreit, one of the most commercially successful artists around.
One of my all-time favorite Engelbreit drawings is of a barefoot woman sitting at her desk wearing a straw hat and bib overalls. Through the window behind her, we see sunflowers and a red barn. There’s a cigar box on her desk overflowing with money.
The caption reads, “We don’t care how they do it in New York.”
In her book Artful Words, Engelbreit tells the story behind some of her best known drawings. Here’s what she says inspired the creative farm woman:
“I did this because in the early days, people (especially on the East and West Coasts) were always saying, ‘Oh, you can’t start a card company. You can’t do it this way. You can’t do it that way.’ Of course we did do it that way. The funny thing is this greeting card was a best-seller in New York.
“So many people in New York and California just don’t have any idea about the rest of the country. I’ve met people from the coasts who assume that because I’m from the Midwest, I live on a farm. So this was for all of them.”