You have probably heard of the phrase: “Things happen for a reason.” That’s fate. It’s also a way to approach life. When you believe that whatever comes your way has a reason, you are an optimist. But trusting in fate can also lead to disappointment if you don’t know to capitalize on it. Most people with successful careers had times when fate seemed to intervene. Likewise, people with less than successful careers blamed fate for their lack of success. Nelson Mandela summarizes they way we should approach these unexpected turns in our life when he says: “I am master of my fate and the captain of my destiny.”
The first strategy to capitalizing on fate is the recognition that fate is actually intervening. Think about those times in your life when things don’t turn out as you expected. These don’t have to be big moments. Often they can seem inconsequential at the time. Here’s how to sense these moments of fate:
- What just happened?
- What was I expecting?
- What happened that I didn’t expect?
It’s helpful to actually write out the answers to each of these questions. The process of writing out your answers can be very helpful in revealing aspects of the experience that you didn’t expect.
Next think about why the situation turned out differently than you expected. You might want to say that it was chance, but that’s rarely the case. The key is to think about what you can learn from this. Was it something you did? Did people react/respond differently than you expected? Why? Was there something you didn’t anticipate? If so, Why?
Now think about what you can do to take advantage of the unexpected turn of events:
- How can the unexpected be converted into a new opportunity?
- How can the unexpected lead to new insights?
Once you have answered each of these questions, put together a plan for capitalizing on the unexpected. All of this may sound too idealistic, but all you need to do is to read a successful person’s biography to see how they capitalized on fate.
Consider the case of Isaac Merritt Singer. Singer didn’t invent the sewing machine, but he made key improvements in the sewing machine.
Singer set out across the country to sell his sewing machine. But sales were hard to come by. The challenge was one he didn’t expect. He expected some resistance on price and had anticipated this by allowing families to buy the sewing machines on an installment plan. What he didn’t expect was that religion would be a factor in making the sale. Women felt that the ability to sew was a gift from God. Using a machine to replace what they did by hand was to them ungodly.
Singer thought about his challenges and developed a plan that would actually lead to more sales. What he did was to visit the local minister’s home as his first stop in every community. He gave the minister a sewing machine. Then he let other families know that the minister had acquired a sewing machine.
What was originally a challenge resulted into increased sales. The I.M. Singer Company became the dominant player in the sewing machine industry. The company’s success may had been a matter of fate, but it was Singer’s capitalizing on fate that made the difference.
How do you approach challenges? Do you take control of the challenge to convert it to a success?