To Seize Benefits of Coincidence, Sometimes You Must Act Quickly

August 6, 2016 5:56 pm Last Updated: August 6, 2016 5:56 pm

An opportunity suddenly appears within a narrow time window. Will you act?

In a busy airport, a man saw a woman who immediately struck him as “the one.” A journalist found himself literally on the doorstep of an important contact.

One took the opportunity, the other didn’t. Coincidences, such as those in which you meet exactly the right person at exactly the right time, often present these small windows of great opportunity.

In the Airport

As I recount in my book, Connecting With Coincidence, Joseph Jaworski was running to catch a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport when he noticed a “very beautiful” young woman walking toward him. As she passed him, he stopped and looked into her eyes, which were “absolutely gorgeous.”

He was certain he knew her. At that moment, he saw his future life with her. He ran after her and caught up to her. As she was about to hand her Dallas-bound ticket to the agent, he pulled her back and insisted they talk right then.

“Are you married?” he asked.

“No” she replied. “Are you?”

“Of course not,” he said.

He told her that he felt they’d met before, although he knew they hadn’t. He insisted that she give him her name and telephone number. Without hesitation, she did.

Jaworski later wrote about meeting Mavis: “In her presence, I felt this warmth. When my eyes met hers, it was a spiritual thing. When I ran after her, it was as if nothing else mattered. I can hardly describe any of this. It is very mysterious. But it feels like love.”

They were married within the year.

The Journalist

A journalist told me the following story: “It was the late 1970s and I had moved to New York City looking for my first job in journalism after graduate school. A new magazine was being published called Omni and I so much wanted to work for them. The magazine was being published by Bob Guccione, who was also the publisher of Penthouse magazine.

“So I looked in the phonebook, got the address, and decided to visit their offices. It was just a few blocks away from where I lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The address turned out to be a brownstone, not your typical high-rise office building, but I had been to several other magazine offices whose offices turned out to be in brownstones, so I thought nothing of it.

“When I walked in, I was asked who I was there to see, and I said ‘Bob Guccione.’ ‘Fourth floor,’ I was told. So I got in the elevator, pressed the fourth floor button, and went up. When the doors of the elevator opened, there was no hallway or reception desk. Instead, I found myself right smack in someone’s living room lavishly decorated with Persian rugs, large sofas, ornate chairs, huge paintings, a gold-framed mirror, truly sumptuous surroundings.

“Suddenly it struck me: I was in Bob Guccione’s home! Realizing my mistake, and since there was no one in the room, I pressed the first floor button, went back down, and left the building quite flustered. I now wonder: Did I miss an incredible opportunity? What if I had sat down on the couch and waited for someone to show up? Maybe my life would have turned out entirely differently.”

What would have happened had he stayed? Would he have been shot by a bodyguard, greeted by a welcoming office manager, or had a chance to meet the publisher and been offered a job at the magazine? He will never know.

Jason Flom, CEO of Lava Records and a self-professed expert at creating “coincidences,” calls the journalist’s fear of acting a “non-moving violation.” The journalist missed the potential promise of the situation.  

Avoid “non-moving violations.” Seize the coincidence!

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This article was previously published by Psychology Today, as part of a series of articles by Bernard Beitman, MD, on the science of synchronicity and serendipity. Beitman is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia. He is the former chair of the University of Missouri-Columbia department of psychiatry. See his blog, Connecting With Coincidence, to learn more about Coincidence Studies.

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