Saturday, December 21, 2013

Falling in love on a chairlift

Imagine one day during the Christmas break you and a group of friends decide to go snowboarding. You decide to go snowboarding because skiing is for the elderly. You are all bundled up nice and warm, you have all the necessary gear, and you are all just having a memorable day as the snow falls down and creates softer landings for you inevitable falls. The last of your friends get on the chair in front of you so you patiently wait for the next chair to sweep you up and they place you next to another person. You sit back into your chair, safely put the safety bar down and exhale. You are on a beautiful mountain, snowboarding with all of your friends, life is good. You then look to your right and you notice the person next to you also snowboards because they are hip and into cool things. You make a comment about the weather, "cold out today eh?" Ask them where they are from, what they do and you start to think that maybe this person is pretty cool. You invite them to join you for a run down the mountain. They have some decent riding skills so you decide to invite that person to lunch, you share a delicious poutine, exchange numbers, and slowly start to think this might be the last person you want to "snowboard" with. Boom, you have just fallen in love and your life now is very different all because of a chance encounter on a chair lift.

What if you had come down the hill 1 minute later or earlier? What if your friends decided they wanted to go to the mountain on a Tuesday instead of the Wednesday? You never would have met them and would have no idea what you missed out on. Now, some people are of the opinion that that encounter was fate and if they didn't meet that day, they surely would have fallen in love another day. I tend to disagree in most cases and feel that in general, and way more than we like to think, our lives are a series of random events that we have little to no control over.

 (There is a website called where people who met during a flight and didn't have the nerve to say something in person, describe the event and their flight details on this site and hope the other person reads it. If you like someone people, just get their number, you can do it)

While we love to think we are completely in control but we really don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, next week or next year. Try to think about events that have happened in 2013 that you would not have guessed this time last year from losing a job to changing cities and friends, our lives are unpredictable. For example, a one-night stand turns into a baby that turns into a marriage that might turn into 2 more babies and all because you both had too many jager bombs one Saturday night. 

Last year I read a book called The Click Moment by Frans Johannson that talks about how our lives and our success is largely outside of our control. Yes working hard is important, but there are lots of people who work hard that catch a few bad breaks and aren't in the best position. Frans writes how spending 10, 000 hours practicing a certain skill is only a real advantage when dealing with environments that don't change much like tennis or playing the piano. Business, trends and people are constantly evolving which means rules and ways to succeed are also expanding. That's a big reason why Richard Branson can start an airline without spending years in the aviation industry or how Mark Zuckerberg can become a billionaire by starting a website. He demonstrates how rules can change with the story of Nokia. At one point it was the dominant cellphone maker. When the iPhone hit the market in 2007 and Google soon followed with its Android operating system, Nokia saw smart phones as niche products and paid a heavy price. Another story features the Google founders who tried to sell their search engine for a measly $1 million only to be told no deal by Yahoo and others. In both cases all their experience with cellphones and search engines did not help them see how things were going to change.

He also notes that you can’t follow trends and expect success. For example, the relative success of lawyers in the past has lead to an over supply that has reduced the chances of success for new graduates. Anything exposed to market forces needs to be different in order to rise above the competition. Success in the future defies logic and prediction and is therefore somewhat random. He cites the success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Vampire series as an example that defies logic. The author was inexperienced and not a talented writer. None the less, her work broke the Hairy Potter best seller longevity record. When she started writing she knew little about vampires and broke all the rules, no fangs, no coffins. We also hear the story of best selling author Stephen King who tried to publish under a pseudonym to pump out books faster. What he found out is that his initial success caused his other Stephen Kings books to sell well thanks to the brand identification of his name rather than his writing skill.

Should the news that our lives are what they have become due to a series of events that are largely out of our control scare us? It might give some people comfort that if things haven't really turned out, it isn't entirely their fault. What I think we should get out of this is a sense of excitement that the world is an incredible place and that if you are open to opportunities, change, people and new experiences, you literally have no idea what might end up happening to you. 

No one remembers these nights

“There are patterns because we try to find them. A desperate

 attempt at order because we can't face the terror that it 

might all be random.” Lauren Beukes

A song that might do a better job of explaining this:

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.