Happy accidents led to the invention of many things that we take for granted, such as the microwave oven, the phonograph and the curiously resilient CorningWare dishes. Maybe you don’t aspire to inventing a life-changing consumer product, but perhaps you’d like to switch career paths, meet new people or learn a new skill.
Serendipity is all around you, and it can help you achieve personal and professional growth.
“In addition to the occasional case of the monumental, unexpected occurrence that may be researched and exploited, situations may arise that also lead to a useful and/or profitable outcome,” says Neil J. Farber, MD. “One can know what one wants to achieve but be unable to get to that outcome. … sometimes by chance, the way to proceed may appear.”
Dr. Farber’s new book, Serendipity: Utilizing Everyday Unexpected Events to Improve Your Life and Career, thoroughly explores the role that serendipity could play in our lives and explains that recognizing serendipitous events is better achieved with a certain set of skills.
“You have to have a mind-set that allows you to think that such events can happen,” he explains, adding that by practicing self-awareness and cultivating keen visual and auditory observational skills, we are more likely to spot even the most subtle of serendipitous happenings.
Serendipity describes how to understand the different types of serendipitous events and how they are common to all of us; how to recognize these events when they do occur; how to acquire the skills necessary to become more aware of serendipity; how to “connect the dots” to bring the serendipitous event to a fortuitous conclusion (that is, what skills, assistance and resources may be necessary); and what to do with the end product or idea if it is profitable, or as sometimes happens, when it is not.
Dr. Farber uses events recorded in literature and the history books, as well as events that have occurred in his own personal and professional life to create a helpful guide for recognizing and turning common events into meaningful moments.
Author Neil J. Farber is a Professor Emeritus of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and a docent at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. He has been an academic internal medicine physician for 40 years, teaching, researching, and providing patient care in medical schools initially on the East Coast. For the past 12 years, he was a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, retiring at the end of April 2019. He has received numerous awards, including Top Doctor of San Diego five times, and is a member of the FDA Non-Prescription Drug Advisory Committee. He has published over 60 research papers and has had a multitude of serendipitous events occur, which have significantly (and positively) influenced his career and his personal life.