Happening to things, don’t let them happen to you.

In my office the other day, someone was talking about how their friend created a company that was sold for $300 Million. Doesn’t matter what the company was (Yodle maybe?, can’t remember). This figure was significant enough to elicit a question from someone else,

Question: “Damn, how do i get that to happen to me?”.

My Answer: You don’t. 

The question was probably rhetorical. But the point remains that in very few cases (probably the one I mention below) do people just stumble into being able to sell their a company for $300 MM.

(The one case I read about recently was that of the McIllhenny family, who produce Tobasco Hot Sauce – their property
happened to be on a salt mine taller than Everest that would net them millions per year – things like this you can’t just plan to happen.)

Things don’t happen to people who make $300MM companies – those people HAPPEN to THINGS.

Takes a bit of a mental shift to get this, but I think I can break it down into a 2 concepts.

1) luck is the residue of design.

I don’t believe that “Luck” exists – luck happens after you’ve been educating yourself to be able to see through a specific lens, and if you’re been looking through that specific lens for something specific. 

When you spill wine on your floor, you’re looking for ANYTHING that will absorb that wine. Good thing you bought paper towels yesterday, and found that sponge you bought 3 months ago that you haven’t used.

Parents buy band-aids and bring them everywhere because they can’t predict when they’ll need to use them. But when they did, how lucky is that little kid that Mom had a band-aid?

This can also be applied to a person’s perspective.  The more you know, the more you can apply to a problem you encounter, the more likely you’ll be able to solve the problem, the faster you can move onto the next problem or challenge.

Businesses are started because someone has an idea that solves a problem, then they go about finding out a way to solve that problem. If more people also have that problem, they can scale their idea to those other people.

2) When people run into a problem – when they confront & solve the problem – they are HAPPENING to that problem.

When you encounter a challenge, you first need to troubleshoot the problem – where did it come from? how is it weak? (all problems have weakness if you can put them under the right “microscope”), has this been solved before?. Then you take the right tools out of the toolbox and apply them to the problem, and solve it.

Say you’re riding your bike down the street, and your tire pops. Most people would call this unlucky, but I call this extremely inconvenient. In any case, now you’ve got a problem that you need to happen to. If you planned well enough for this, maybe you’ve got a pump and an extra tube ready with you. If not, you’ve gotta walk your bike to a bike shop or back to where you came from and repair it.

In either case, how you solve a problematic situation has everything to do with how you can happen to the situation, and little to do with how or why that problem happened to you. Externalize your ego and move forward towards the solution.

Happen to problems, instead of letting them happen to you. 


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