Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

Chance of serendipity

I recently talked to a group of students, sharing stories of the joy and fulfilment that developer communities have brought to my life. As I did my best to inspire them to get involved and contribute to communities, I quoted Andy Croll’s great blog post about why one should attend conferences:

Meeting someone, or seeing a talk, could change the trajectory of your career. You might choose a product company, if you’ve been in agency life. You might lean hard into open source work and make that a foundation of the next phase of your career. You might meet someone who, in three years, starts a company and remembers that great meal you had and asks you to join them.

Most of the best thing in my life has happened by accident. Or at least they have started by a serendipitous happenstance: meeting someone in an event and ending up chatting; working together with someone on an event or project and building a great relationship; being open to opportunities and putting myself to a position to be lucky.

Occasionally, things line up right away and the impact is immediate. You learn something or meet someone today and tomorrow, wheels start to roll and your life changes. Often though, it takes a longer time for relationships to develop or our lives to end up in a situation where change can happen.

Bill Gates is one of the people attributed for the quote

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

and it applies so well to these serendipitous happenstances as well.

Lives and careers are very long when viewed in this context so a lot of things can happen and develop. It does require getting out there: being active, leaving home, meeting people and keeping an open mind for learning and new relationships, both personal and professional.

I like how Chris Burnell describes his feelings towards meetups and conferences in Strike while the iron is hot:

I’ve also had the good fortune to behold scores of life-changing talks. If activity on my website is any evidence, there is very little so motivating and inspiring as being in this space. For every spark of creativity found in the depths of night, plucking away on the keyboard on my own, there are a hundred more that erupt like a lightning storm from being around such amazing people and captivating conferences and meet-ups.

It resonates very strongly with me. I often love to create in the solitude but getting out there, learning from talks and getting inspired by other people and forging life-long friendships. It's just the best.