A while back, I made the statement that spontaneity is wanting what you get. Recently I had another adventure which has caused me to append to this statement: spontaneity is also knowing how to spot an opportunity.
Too often, we are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. When something good comes along, this fear can stick us to our seats rather than allowing us to push forward and take a risk on a new opportunity.
Last week, I had just such an opportunity. 36 hours later I was on a 14 hour flight to San Francisco.
Always Take Good Advice
6 days ago I was on the phone with a family friend and my uncle, discussing both business and life. In my experience it is very important to seek out people in the world who have successfully achieved the goals that you are looking to achieve yourself and to learn from them. This conversation was just such an experience.
Near the end of the phone call, a recommendation was made that I come out to San Francisco that weekend if I could at all make the trip. Silicon Valley is, naturally, the mecca for my profession (computer programmers). It was very last minute, and warranted some thought, but the fact was that I had made the phone call in order to ask for advice. The only logical thing to do was to follow that advice to the best of my ability.
Soon after, I was meeting with dozens of other like-minded people and having one of the most valuable weekend experiences of my life.
The Confirmation Bias
One of the biggest fears I always have when staring at something that seems to be a good opportunity is the confirmation bias. This phenomenon describes the fact that people are more likely to see things in a way that reaffirms what they already believe. If you think that something is a good idea, it becomes easy (even natural) to selectively ignore evidence to the contrary without even realizing that you are doing it.
I spent some time asking some very smart people this weekend what they thought about the confirmation bias, and their responses were enlightening. One of the best suggestions I heard was to surround yourself with smart people who will challenge you to defend your position, such that you cannot blindly follow an idea which lacks merit.
This may not completely eliminate the confirmation bias, but it at least mitigates it. In this way, we can seek to spot good things in life and pursue them with all our energy – the perfect blend between spontaneity and practicality.
Have you had the opportunity to be spontaneous recently? Have you received any good advice? Let me know below!