About the time I moved from Las Vegas, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh announced the ambitious Downtown Project which he is spearheading. His bold vision is to turn the languishing area into “Disneyland for entrepreneurs.”
New start-ups are moving to Las Vegas, co-working spaces with names like Work in Progress are buzzing and renovated apartments and condos are attracting entrepreneurial owners.
There’s another aspect to this project that is unique. Hsieh is determined to create a place filled with opportunities for serendipity which he calls meaningful collisions. I share his fascination with the phenomenon.
While the common understanding of serendipity is unexpected good fortune, I learned that it goes much further than that. The origin of the word comes from an old Persian fairy tale called The Princes of Serendip.
The story involves three young noblemen who traveled the world. They rarely found the treasures they were looking for, but continually ran into other treasures equally great or even greater which they were not seeking.
In looking for one thing they found something else. Even though their goals eluded them, they were more than rewarded with their wayside discoveries. When they realized what was happening, they got an entirely new slant on life.
As Hsieh explains, “I think you can create your own luck. The key is to meet as many people as you can and really get to know them. I think for most people, college was the last time it was normal to just randomly run into people all the time. As you get older, you drive to work, see the same people every day, then go home. But the best things happen when people are running into each other and sharing ideas.”
Want to have more serendipitous adventures? It does not occur when we are passively waiting for something to happen. We must be actively engaged in the pursuit of some goal and, yet, be willing for it to turn out differently than first imagined.
Although you may not be part of the Las Vegas Downtown Project, you can create serendipitous opportunities wherever you happen to be. Keep asking yourself, “When was the last time I did something for the first time?”
Engage in social media (don’t just open a Facebook account). Join or start a MeetUp group. Attend seminars where ideas will be filling the air. Investigate co-working spaces in your community. Or start one. Find a mastermind group or accountability partner. Create a quest to explore a new subject. Refuse to settle for predictability.
Specialize in meaningful collisions and celebrate them as they happen. Or, as Tony Hsieh advises, keep creating your own luck.