One of my life principles is to expose myself to as much randomness as possible.
I firmly believe that if we keep our mind open and explore the unknown, good things will (eventually) happen. If I reflect on some of the best things in my life they are more a result of random events (which I took advantage of) than a concerted effort towards any single outcome.
An ultra-precise friend recently sharpened this philosophy: Expose yourself to bulk, positive randomness and be ready to take advantage of it.
Let’s parse it.
Expose yourself: Read books, travel, talk to people. Take in information and new experiences. Be in a mindset that allows your deepest assumptions to be challenged.
Bulk: This is the theory behind conferences. It’s more efficient when people and ideas are concentrated in one physical location. Another example of bulk randomness is a web site like Political Theory Daily Review which each day presents interesting (and intellectual) links in high quantity. Finally, any college or university serves up randomness on a silver platter: thousands of smart strangers concentrated in a small physical area for a long period of time.
Positive: There needs to be no significant downside. In other words, wandering around Darfur in the pursuit of random interactions is a bad idea.
Take Advantage of It: You need to seize the moment. If you randomly meet someone interesting, follow up. If you discover a wonderful nook in Barcelona and want to postpone your trek to Madrid, do it, and explore. If someone invites you to attend a speech by a hero but it conflicts with something already on your calendar (but less interesting), skip your existing appointment and go for it.
Do you seek out randomness? What’s the most random thing that’s happened to you that’s changed your life for the better because you took advantage of it?