Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #57: Ride the Opportunities

OBSERVE: Ride the Opportunities
"I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one."
—Mark Twain

My theatre show “Help! Help! I Know This Title is Long, But Somebody's Trying to Kill Me!” begins with a fool (me, of course) discovering that all the other performers in the variety show have been murdered. A dark start for a comedy, and it gets worse as the fool is threatened with his own demise if he doesn't do all the acts by himself. But the way this fool sees it, despite the danger and impossibility of the task, it's the opportunity he's always dreamed of, to fill the shoes of the world's greatest juggler, magician, ukulele player, etc. Of course he accepts.

(For those of you who haven't seen this already: my promo video for the show)

Fools look for an opportunity that they can grab—like when Buster Keaton grabs a passing car and gets whisked away in the movie Cops, temporarily saving himself—and then fools ride this moment to wherever it takes them, usually to another opportunity, and then another, and another. The occasion becomes a dream vacation for creative problem solvers where the final destination is a reimagined solution.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman has done a variety of studies on lucky and unlucky people, and has found that it's not just chance involved that makes the difference, but how you see the world and how you act on it. Luck doesn't just happen, but is made. Here's an excerpt from an interview with him in Fast Company magazine:

"What are some of the ways that lucky people think differently from unlucky people?
One way is to be open to new experiences. Unlucky people are stuck in routines. When they see something new, they want no part of it. Lucky people always want something new. They're prepared to take risks and relaxed enough to see the opportunities in the first place." How To Make Your Own Luck | Fast Company

To ride opportunities, you reframe chance encounters with people and events as lucky gifts to build upon, to take you to unforeseeable places, and to connect with the problem you are trying to solve. By embracing what may just be coincidences, you loosen an unnecessarily rigid control over your life, because you're not always that good at predicting the future anyway.

Think: Is this an opportunity? Is this? Why don't I jump on to see where it goes?

Next: How to Think Like a Fool #58: Find the Best in the Worst

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