Life Plans and Chance Encounters

My job is one of the most interesting jobs that I can imagine. It’s nominally about brand strategy and communications. Which means that it’s about people, creativity and design.

But it’s also very much about working with students as they figure themselves out and prepare to head off into the world.

Some students arrive here with their future lives already scheduled out. They know the cities that they will or won’t live in. They know the kind of place they want to work. They know the timeline for when they will have kids, even if they haven’t met their future coparent.

What they don’t want to hear, and maybe can’t hear, is that reality isn’t going to cooperate.

The young are continuously warned by the old that the real world is nihilistic and angry. And bad things can happen to good people.

But this isn’t what I mean.

Long-term planners cannot account for the people they will meet along the way. The gravitational-pull of chance encounters is unavoidable and powerful. Even someone following the most carefully calculated trajectory can be nudged off-course by a short conversation with the right person or an unforeseen opportunity that falls out of the sky from the friend of a friend.

This is how people find themselves in careers they never knew existed. Living in cities they never planned on visiting. Surrounding themselves with people they never could have imagined meeting.

It’s not that planning isn’t helpful. It just can’t be counted on.