EXPLORER 19 - Dr Christian Busch




Our guest today is Christian Busch, the co-founder of Sandbox and Leaders On Purpose, and the author of the book “The Serendipity Mindset”. In this episode, we talk about how we can actively create our own luck by cultivating a serendipity mindset, and how we can make uncertainty our ally rather than our enemy. If you want to experience more good luck, meaning and joy in your life, then this episode is for you!

The Beginnings 

“We can't always control the trigger, but we can control our response to it.”

Christian grew up in Germany and was a rebellious teenager. One day, he had a serious car accident and that led him on a path of searching for the true meaning of life.

After reading Victor Frankl´s “Man's search for meaning”, he realized that he wanted to create a meaningful life for himself, so he started to go to college. Over time, Christian got very excited about serendipity because he discovered in his life and research with entrepreneurs serendipity as a key factor for success and meaning. He also realized the importance of trusting his gut feeling, and to go with the flow.

He says that most successful people have this gut feeling, and as a result, they don’t over plan everything. They have their Northstar of what they want to achieve, but they don’t have all the answers and don't plan out every step, they just start walking into the direction of their Northstar. This creates flexibility and leaves room for serendipity and new opportunities to arise that help them achieve impossible goals. 

The Serendipity Mindset

“How do we create small behavioral shifts that get us from unlucky to lucky or from lucky to super lucky?”

According to Christian, when we think about luck, we usually think about a passive event that we have no influence about.

However, he says that we always have a choice on how we react to the unexpected. The serendipity mindset is about being conscious about how we see these unexpected events, connect the dots, and create positive outcomes.

So ultimately serendipity is about two things: 

  • How do we make accidents more meaningful? 

  • How do we create more meaningful accidents?

A serendipity mindset can be learned, and that is what differentiates “lucky” and “unlucky” people.

Serendipity In Everyday Life

Christian found many practices over the years that help bring more serendipity into our lives. One of them is writing a serendipity journal, where we write down all the unexpected good things that happened to us that day.

This mindset can also be used in corporate settings. For example by asking questions in team meetings like, what unexpected things happened to you, or what surprised you this week. This helps to legitimize the idea that the unexpected is actually okay and makes people more alert for new opportunities.

He writes about serendipity in more detail in his book, the Serendipity Mindset.

How To Trust Uncertainty

“We cannot connect the dots looking forward only backward”

According to Christian, we can navigate better in uncertainty if we discover how to be really true to ourselves. 

Then we can develop a Northstar and a feeling of where we want to go and involve the people around us and be open to serendipity to connect the potential dots.

It is very helpful to defocus on what we can't control and really focus on what we can control. But also within what we can control, see how something could ideally be rather than just seeing the limited way of how it is at the moment.

Palma’s Reflection On Serendipity 

This week we invite you to reflect on serendipity and synchronicity in your life.

During our interview, we spoke about the notion that we cannot connect the dots looking forward, but only looking backward. This week we invite you to think about your own life and if the same is true for your life.

Christian also mentioned setting serendipity hooks by introducing yourself in a different way, not just saying what you do, but talking about some of the things that you are currently exploring or passionate about.

So how could you introduce yourself in a different way, creating some serendipity hooks?

About Our Guest, Christian Busch

Dr. Christian Busch is a professor at New York University (NYU), where he directs the CGA Global Economy Program. He also teaches at the London School of Economics (LSE), where he is a Visiting Fellow at the Marshall Institute. Previously, he co-directed the LSE's Innovation and Co-Creation Lab. He is a co-founder of Sandbox Network, a community of young innovators, as well as Leaders on Purpose, an organization convening leading CEOs. He is a member of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Expert Forum, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and among the "top 30 emerging management thinkers" (Thinkers50), Diplomatic Courier’s 'Top 99 Influencers', and JCI's 'Ten Outstanding Persons'. His new book, The Serendipity Mindset – highlighted by Arianna Huffington as a "wise, exciting, and life-changing book" and considered by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and former Unilever CEO Paul Polman as “highly recommended” – was published by Penguin Random House in September 2020.

A special thanks to Christian Busch for taking the time to share his inspiring story with us.


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