I love Synchronicity

Synchoronicity is the “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events”.

In my understanding (admittedly I am using the definition loosely): Something happens. Then something else happens which reminds you of that earlier occurence either in context or in content, but the two seem completely unrelated.

The most uncanny occurence of synchronicity which I have experienced lately is when I was reading the Satanic Verses, while Bluffmaster was playing on TV in the background. The scene came, where Abhishek Bachchan learns that he is going to die, and Boman Irani is trying to tell him that he should live his life to the fullest in the short time he has. He tells him about him being a kid – learning to ride a bicycle – his dad holding the bike coz the kid’s scared that he might fall – but then the father suddenly lets go of the bike without the kid realising and voila! he has learned how to ride a bike. Exactly five minutes later I read this in the Satanic verses (one of the two main characters Saladin Chamcha is reflecting on the suffering that has been caused to him by the things he loved the most. One of them – the dream of a child he never had):

“..In the sylvan secrecy, Saladin saw himself, accompanied by a small boy of about five, whom he was teaching how to ride a bicycle. The boy, wobbling alarmingly at first, made heroic efforts to gain and maintain his balance, with the ferocity of one who wished his father to be proud of him. The dream-Chamcha ran along behind the imagined son, holding the bike upright by gripping the parcelrack over the rear wheel. Then he released it and the boy (not knowing himself to be unsupported) kept going: balance came like a gift of flight, and the two of them were gliding down the avenue, Chamcha running, the boy pedalling harder and harder. ‘You did it!’ Saladin rejoiced, and the equally elated child shouted back: ‘Look at me! See how quickly I learned! Aren’t you pleased with me? Aren’t you pleased?’ It was a dream to weep at; for when he awoke there was no bicycle and no child.”

The thing about synchronicity is that a) It’s thrilling – the fact that something like it happened is mysterious and exciting b) It often makes you think about things a little more deeply – often shedding new light on what you knew or believed.

A couple of days back I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about what leads to success. His point was that talent is inherent – It is genetic and thus you can never really compete with a person in areas where he or she is born talented. Also, he said a lot of people end up picking the wrong domain and thus end up as failures.

The next day this nugget came in through my RSS feeds. Guy Kawasaki redirects us to this piece, which everyone must read. Guy sums it up as:

The article postulates that people have two kinds of mindsets: growth or fixed. People with the growth mindset view life as a series of challenges and opportunities for improving. People with a fixed mindset believe that they are “set” as either good or bad. The issue is that the good ones believe they don’t have to work hard, and the bad ones believe that working hard won’t change anything.

Dr. Dweck calls the fixed mindset the performance mindset – where someone who has to be “officially good” at something – often plays safe – as he can’t  be seen as bad, and also fails to work on complex things where some initial hard work is needed (as he is already supposed to be good at it).

So at the end of the day it is not so much about why inherently talented people succeed, but about why some talented people DON’T succeed – and that is where the balance of power is shifted. Thus the argument I would give back to my friend is that a growth mindset person can often overcome a talented but fixed mindset person.

Unfortunately – I think I belong to the latter. I am too embarrassed to be seen as “bad” at something – which has resulted in me not doing so many things – one of my biggest regrets is Sports. Another recent example is Salsa. I joined Salsa classes more than an year back but I still suck at it. Part of which can be attributed to the fact that I have been called a good dancer so many times now that it has now become an inherent belief. (Sumedha Garg where are you? I need you to talk me down a bit). Perhaps all along when I have been learning Salsa – I have basically believed that I am inherently good and all other are largely suckers.

Damn! I need a growth mindset. Pronto. And I have a lot of work to do to get there.

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One thought on “I love Synchronicity

  1. […] talk, and given that Square is one of the companies I want to work for, I found the weird sense of Synchronicity at play. (I found out there was another phrase for it: cognitive bias though in this case i […]

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