Planned Happenstance is a career theory that relies on the five elements of curiosity, persistence, flexibility, optimism and risk taking for success. If you’re willing to follow your curiosity, open to opportunities and ready to take advantage when they come along, you will be surprised by the results.
I have a lovely story which has literally been unfolding over the past few weeks. My husband recently visited a colleague at his house. While there, he saw a print of a racing car. Looking closely he noticed it belonged to his colleague’s son. My husband said he thought the picture was very good. His colleague said “really it’s the only thing he’s interested in. My son is very shy.”
My husband had met his colleague’s son before. He’d undertaken some work experience at their company, and so when the boy came into the room he said “I know an artist who specialises in painting sports cars. I’m sure he’d be happy to meet you and show you round his studio.”
The boy’s face lit up. His shyness melted away as he described the kinds of car he loved to draw. My husband duly contacted the artist, who was happy for the boy to visit, so they went together to the studio. The artist shared some helpful advice and ideas and invited the boy to keep in touch.
Pleased with himself, my husband then shared the story with me. I checked online and found an automotive design course at a local university. My husband then shared this information with his colleague and his son. They subsequently arranged to attend an open day, which just so happened to be the following week. The boy was enthusiastic about the course. He hadn’t realised until then he might be able to study automotive design.
Next, the boy got back in touch with the artist to ask his advice about meeting the owner of a local racing car firm at a car rally. The artist suggested that meeting the owner at his company rather than at the rally might be a better idea. The owner would probably be too busy to talk much.
Unprompted, the boy phoned the owner, and asked if he could paint one of their cars. The owner invited the boy to the company and asked him to bring a sample of his work with him. The owner saw and liked the boy’s paintings- and offered to pay him if he painted a car for each driver as a Christmas gift.
If a painfully shy, 17 year old boy can achieve this degree of progress towards his dream in a matter of weeks, there is surely hope for us all.
Anne Wilson (Head of Careers, University of Warwick)