Spontaneity is (Also) Spotting Opportunities

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Landing in San Francisco

Landing in San Francisco

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.



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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!

  • Max Hydrogen

    “S’entourer de gens intelligents qui nous mettent au défi de défendre une position pour ne pas aveuglement poursuivre une idée sans mérite”. Ça sonne comme un conseil de Napoleon Hill. En fait, c’est comme tu as dit: “… il est très important de parler avec ceux qui ont atteint les même buts dans la vie dont on aimerait atteindre nous-même.”; Hill a fait des centaines d’entrevus avec plusieurs individus accomplis. Et moi aussi j’aimerais parlé avec des gens qui m’inspirent. Mais je ne crois pas vraiment au “sales pitch” de Hill.

    Il n’y a rien de plus vrai que  le “confirmation basis”. Je soupçonne que tout le monde est comme ça et ceux qui ne le sont pas souffre du “depressive realism”

    • http://LifeByExperimentation.com Zane the Experimenter

      Merci! Haha, les “sales pitches” tout avez un “agenda.” Comme tu as dit, le “confirmation bias” est “depressive realism,” mais n’est mal parce que – en fait – quand tu acceptes ça est plus facil a réussir :)

  • http://www.therebelblogger.com Kevin Wright

    I love the section about Confirmation Bias. I have a good friend who is both encouraging and challenging. I think it is key to find people who are both. Thoughtful critiques help us grow.

    • http://LifeByExperimentation.com Zane the Experimenter

      Thanks! Its something to keep an eye out for, but when you do, it can really make you a better person.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been quite spontaneous lately. Some days, I don’t know where I’m going to sleep that night. Pushing travel planning to the last minute is sometimes a bad idea. For example, yesterday I flew from London to Amsterdam, having booked a flight only a short time before. But while at the airport, I discovered that I could have done rail and sail (train and ferry)… and I would have greatly preferred to do that, had I known the option existed.

    I’m here in Amsterdam because of Appsterdam… a good example of an opportunity that I’ve spontaneously jumped on.

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