Fueled by Randomness

(This is from Edition 15 of The Upleveler, our weekly smartletter)



OK, so random things don't always make sense. Over time, we become less tolerant of randomness and close friends with the regular. Routines and rituals are great for saving mental energy. You waste less time dealing with the unexpected, you are more productive with the tried-and-tested, and failures are limited.

Congratulations - you're a sensible member of society! (about time too.)

But ruling out randomness has its price. A look back at the evolution of organisms and ideas shows us the value of a little deviation from the algorithm. Some, not all, 'mistakes' result in great discoveries and more successful entities. The odds of success are very low, but without randomness, the chances that the status quo will eventually doom us are a hundred percent.

Curiosity, Innovation, and Growth all need calibrated doses of randomness. Anything that perturbs your set routines, pinches the nose of your beloved processes, and up-ends your 6 Sigma. We live in a world that is increasingly 'tuned' to what it thinks are our preferences, and crowds out the random. 

So how to be fueled by randomness in your seemingly settled life? Here are four random/pseudo-random suggestions for the white-collared knowledge professional:

  1. Put yourself in environments that permit random discovery. For instance, go to an actual library and just browse through books that others have returned. Overcome the tyranny of the tailored recommendation.

  2. Take the 'wrong' route. The longer one, the more crowded one, the roundabout one. You might discover it's just 'right' on some other dimension.

  3. Hit 'random article' on Wikipedia.

  4. You are in a place where you  have to make an choice. Say a restaurant. Think of an acquaintance very unlike you. What would they order here? Go for it.

By now you see the meta-pattern (even in randomness!): find a situation that presents you with choices and pick something you wouldn't ordinarily go for.

Ensure the downsides are low and treat any outcome as a learning experience. Keep some time aside for 'wasting' time on such endeavours.

And trust randomness to do the rest.

Got any 'fueled by randomness' hacks? Share them with us in the comments section.

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