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"It happened by chance:" The serendipity career path

We all know people who were going about their own business not seeking new direction. Guidance came, unasked, from sources outside themselves.

It's not enough to receive a message: you have to know how to listen and interpret what comes.
Coaching rarely provides serendipitous guidance, but can help you listen and interpret more effectively.


Real-Life Examples

Charles found his career in junior high school, when he literally fell from the choir loft into the church organ. He was so fascinated by the repairs that the specialist invited him to work in his shop.

Through high school, Charles did small chores and later graduated to apprentice repair. He never bothered with college. Now his firm repairs church organs all over the region

According to a story from long ago, the California Highway Patrol stopped a man for speeding. Noting that he handled the car exceptionally well at high speeds, they suggested he apply to the CHP. Now he can drive ninety miles an hour all day long.

In her book Fighting Fire, Caroline Paul describes the birth of her career. During one of her workouts in a gym, a man greeted her, complimented her strength, and handed her a Fire Department recruiting pamphlet. Caroline, a Stanford graduate who had planned graduate study in fine arts, went on to become one of the first women fire fighters in San Francisco.

A particularly good story comes from the owners of Three Dog Bakery. When their dog refused to eat, the vet suggested, "Why don't you cook for her?"

The owner had no idea where to begin. He modified a cookie recipe and the dog wolfed it down. That was the beginning of an empire.

In an audiotape about work (I can't find the source), author Thomas Moore says he had just decided to stop teaching psychology when someone asked him, "Will you be my therapist?" That question gave him a new career.

Do the rest of us ignore those messages?

I'm trying to collect more serendipity stories, but people who fall into work they love do not read self-help books or call career coaches. I suspect the rest of us also receive messages, but we ignore them.

A professor says to a student, "You have a knack for this subject and you should major in it." A neighbor says, "You ought to consider making a career out of your talent." And the conversation is forgotten half an hour later.

Sometimes the message should be heard as, "Keep this talent somewhere in your life, not necessarily as a profit center." Nina gives pottery as Christmas presents, but she will not give up her lucrative day job in advertising. She realizes the need to market her wares would overwhelm her love of the clay.

True messages leave you feeling as if you've been hit on the head by a flying two-by-four. They reach your heart. They feel "right." You hear them as invitations, not advice.

As you open your intuition and become focused on what you want, you'll find yourself attracting more invitations. And one of them might take you to worlds you never dreamed of.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com or call 505-534-4294.


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