Connecting with Coincidence | Book Review

Expecting the unexpected makes coincidences
a regular part of daily life. (p. 50)

Good leaders frequently seem lucky. During Academy Leadership Excellence & Executive Coaching workshops, repeated emphasis is placed on managing energy, rather than time, as we develop into effective leaders. This is why the Energize2Lead (E2L) self-evaluation is performed by program attendees in advance and launches these typically three day experiences.

Dr. Bernard Beitman must be a very curious person with a deeply developed situational awareness, of himself, and of his surroundings. Trained in chemistry but drawn to psychiatry (p. 3), Beitman sees himself as an engineer for Carl Jung's theoretical ideas, in particular, the concept of archetypes.

Consider reading Part 3 (Chapter 12), The Psychosphere: Our Mental Atmosphere, first, which suggests and offers clues how coincidences may [physically] occur, especially if your temperament seeks (think dominant green and dominant blue E2L profiles) or requires evidence first. This review introduces the psychosphere and highlights selected coincidence findings which may influence how we best position ourselves as "lucky leaders."

The Psychosphere: Our Mental [ E2L] Atmosphere

To Jung, archetypes were enduring patterns that existed outside the ebb and flow of life -- they father the patterns by which life is formed. To Jung an activated archetype is also associated with all meaningful coincidences (p. 272). There are at least two ways we may think about this as leaders. Our E2L workshops greatly encourage we understand other's deep (instinctive) needs and master how we approach others (through expectation profile colors). Both require expanding our situational awareness, which likely served as a starting point for Dr. Beitman. Also recall in Communication (now titled Feedback) Workshops the significance of non-verbal communication especially when not communicating in person.

Dr. Beitman theorizes there must be mechanisms by which energy-information (E-I) like this is converted into electrical nerve impulses the brain can process into emotion and behavior (p. 259). We may think of this as the underlying physical manifestation of "connecting" with others -- so vital for effective leadership. Just as food smells much better when we are hungry, so E-I receptors are more likely to be open and operating during periods of need, transition, and high emotion (p. 265).

Here's some interesting research worth monitoring. Fowler and Christakis studied more than five thousand people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study between 1971 and 2003. They reported that the happiness of an individual is associated with the happiness of others whom they don't know but with whom they are connected through others (p. 279).

Beitman believes a starting place for understanding how our human GPS (Global Positioning System) might work comes from the human ability known as proprioception -- the capacity to know what our arms, legs and head are doing (p. 265) -- and imagine there are probably many different receptor types for these subtle forms of energy-information (p. 268).

Coincidences and Leadership

Recall our [Feedback Workshop] objective of improved connections with others. Beitman (p. 10) introduces mirror neurons - that remarkable collection of nerve cells in our brains that are activated when we perform an action and when we observe that same action, leading to resonance, or connection. This may explain why the two-way nature of coaching -- or deep listening followed by supportive sharing of oneself -- proves so effective.

The most common triggers for these experiences are death or dying and major illnesses or injury -- "feeling the pain of a loved one at a distance" -- suggest that something out of the ordinary is going on. Dr. Beitman calls this experience simulpathity (p. 14). How does this happen? Beitman describes each of us is part of an intricate web of emotions that exists both inside and outside our bodies, and he calls our participation in this matrix of feelings the psychosphere (p. 19). These thoughts and descriptions remind me of R. Buckminster Fuller's term pattern integrities, specifically applied to people. Regardless the characterization, such experiences underscore tapping into all of our energy sources (physical, spiritual, etc.) for effective leadership.

According to Dr. Beitman, breaking out of a pattern, high emotions and transitions increase the probability of coincidences (pp. 31-32). Our business and personal lives are riddled with uncertainty, so perhaps a leap into disorder, outside the comfort zone, offers new possibilities. In randomness, in chaos, even in crisis, there is opportunity (p. 28). This is what Jeff Boss' Navigating Chaos enthusiastically informs us.

Researchers have identified a group of cells in the brainstem of pigeons that record both the direction and the strength of the magnetic field (p. 72), so this may correspond to a human ability to detect and move toward a needed someone or something (p. 82). Dr. Beitman insists this sensibility can be developed (p. 115). To Horace Walpole, the word serendipity meant finding something by informed observation (sagacity, as he called it) and by accident.

We can sometimes predict events or attract what we are thinking (p. 153). Dr. Beitman advises before reaching for divine explanations or settling for statistical simplicity, we need to look for possibilities within ourselves, including the capacity to access knowledge beyond our conscious memory and five senses (p. 159). It's easy to understand how this can help with goal setting, that is once we document and share goals with others, all of our senses (and perhaps the psychosphere) may be activated.

Much of effective coaching depends on asking good questions. Beitman suggest we miss many opportunities because we are not able to recognize them, are not prepared to move quickly, or are afraid to ask (p. 184). But a good coach may elicit unexpected possibilities. Psychologist Richard Wiseman found that lucky people create their own luck - they persevere, are optimistic, learn from failure, and rely on intuition (p. 191). Further, the word intuition comes from a Latin word tutio meaning "a looking after, guardianship." It is related to the word tutor, the business of teaching pupils. Intuition is our "inner teacher." We may hone our intuition by following some of our inner urgings to see what happens (pp. 194-195).

Be The Lucky Leader | Integrate Coincidences Into Your Life

Dr. Beitman focuses on instrumental coincidences and their two uses: providing just what you need and helping with decision making (p. 209). Keeping a written journal, documenting goals, and reflecting on leadership aligns very well with this advice.

Among many Jungians to individuate is to become more clearly ourselves - to become more genuine, more authentic, more real to others, and to know with increasing clarity our strengths, weaknesses, and desires (p. 214). Each of these traits, or habits, are also outcomes from effective leadership growth facilitated by our personal philosophy.

Freudian psychoanalyst Gibbs Williams believes that coincidences are created by each person in an attempt to solve problems (p. 224). Beitman advises that we integrate coincidences in [our] life by (pp. 253-254):

• Look for them, especially during times of intense emotion, need and transition.
• Remember coincidences are sign posts, not directives.
• Speculate about explanations, particularly about how you might be contributing to them.
• Write down what you need to find to develop a record. Look for patterns in your coincidences.
• Read about coincidences to increase their frequency.
• Participate in coincidence websites. 

In summary, we may create an intention within the realm of possibility, then energize it and allow [our] subconscious to help carry it out (p. 251). Great advice for all of us as leaders.

Note: Dr. Beitman generously provided a copy of his book for review.

JE | August 2016