Steered Serendipity and Creative Interactions for Remote Workers

The idea of designing office buildings for serendipity has been embraced for decades, especially in established and emerging technology hubs. Architects create designs that encourage employees to move through the space, with the hope of catalyzing impromptu interaction and serendipitous encounters.

The goal is to break down the silos and echo chambers of the old-line office environs in favor of a more vibrant and collaborative workspace. These workspaces are characterized by architectural elements such as expansive atriums, informal gathering spaces, reconfigurable walls, community cafes, and outdoor working patios.

Now, however, many of these gleaming engines of workaday serendipity sit empty. Hollow husks awaiting the return of their former occupants, most of whom were pressed into remote work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality, though, is that many of these people will not return. At least not full time, or in full force. Remote work is here to stay.

Overcoming Perfectionism with Wabi-Sabi

I’m not a huge film buff or anything, but if someone were to ask me to name my favorite director, I would immediately say Stanley Kubrick.

First off, A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite films of all time. And I’d put a bunch of other Kubrick films in my top fifty, namely Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Full Metal Jacket.

Kubrick’s cinematic contributions are outstanding, and he is considered one of the most influential directors in the history of film. However, he was also a notorious and relentless perfectionist.

Cultivate Enterprise to Take Initiative and Seize Opportunity

We can put ourselves in situations or environments where we are more likely to encounter opportunity. We can teach ourselves to better recognize and evaluate opportunity. If we want to seize and exploit an opportunity, however, we must take initiative. We must act.

A bias toward action, the willingness to do something different or difficult, the eagerness to embrace a bold undertaking – these are the hallmarks of the enterprising person.

Some people are more naturally enterprising than others, to be sure. They are inherently driven, ambitious, self-starting go-getters. Others need to look a little harder to find their motivation.

No matter. Regardless of where we fall on the action orientation continuum, we can cultivate the quality of enterprise. We can develop specific tendencies that will move us to act when action is needed.

12 Ways to Reframe Setbacks as Opportunities

Speaking at the convocation of the United Negro College Fund in Indianapolis in 1959, John F. Kennedy said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and one represents opportunity.”

From a purely linguistic perspective, Kennedy was wrong about what those particular Chinese characters actually represent.

JFK wasn’t the first to make this mistake, and many others have made it since. The trope has been repeated by journalists, bloggers, motivational speakers, and politicians for decades.

Managing the Motivation Gap between Aspirations and Expectations

We all have aspirations. We may aim high, low, or somewhere in between, but we all have some hope of achieving something. Our desires may not always be well formed or clearly stated goals, but we have them.

We also have expectations regarding our ability to achieve our desires. Expectations, like aspirations, range from low to high.

Advice about how high we should set our expectations varies, too.

“High expectations,” said Walmart founder Sam Walton, “are the key to everything.”

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