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Life is random, or how The Butterfly Effect finds us all

I was just thinking about this concept this weekend. Let me try and elaborate via two stories.

Why do I even live in Texas?

Might seem weird to some because I’m from New York City and spent most of my existence in the Northeast.

Well, here’s the deal: I was finishing this graduate school program in Minneapolis in 2014. It was about April 2014, graduation was in a month, and I didn’t have a job lined up for that. I liked Minneapolis to an extent, but the weather was the driver away — so I knew I’d have to relocate for work. That’s tricky as less and less companies pay relocation for mid-level roles that I’d be applying to.

I was initially concentrating my search in Boston because that’s where my (then) wife and I wanted to go, but eventually we decided to open it up.

So then three completely random things happened in the span of about six-seven days:

  1. I went day drinking at a Bar Louie in uptown Minneapolis, largely out of frustration with the job search stuff. While there, I opened Indeed (job search site) and applied to 100+ “Easy Apply” (automatic send of resume) jobs. Strategic, I know.
  2. One of the jobs I applied for was in the DFW area, and the hiring manager looked at this blog of mine (listed at bottom of resume). One of my most recent posts at the time mentioned Simon Sinek and Sinek had just spoken to a conference put on by this org; the CEO of the org loved him.
  3. This got me an interview.

And then, randomness Part II

I had a few interviews with this place but again, I wasn’t thinking Texas was a viable destination.

So at the same time, in an effort to make money, I’m doing some freelance writing for this guy who has a niche doing marketing for dentists.

That dude lived in Missouri.

I don’t know area codes well (LUDA) but one day I’m sitting at home messing around on my laptop.

I get a call from a 214.

Thinking it’s the Missouri guy, I answer it.

It’s the hiring manager for the Texas job.

We talk through the role and the offer number.

This led me to rethink it and have conversations with my wife about it.

Now I guarantee you, if I let that call go to voice mail, she doesn’t leave the offer number on the call, and maybe I never call her back, or take too long, or whatever.

So because of Bar Louie and area codes…

… I end up down in north Texas, and about four years later, I’m still here.

Not married anymore.

Not in that job anymore.

(This is kind of why I don’t believe in “five-year plans,” as an aside.)

I thought of a few more, too:

  • I never would have known/met my ex-wife if I hadn’t become Senior Class President at Georgetown, which is actually an appointed position as opposed to an elected one. I only applied for that because I didn’t get a position with New Student Orientation, which is what I wanted.
  • Only was able to start freelancing — which then became my entire full-time deal — because I liked an article in Fast Company once, decided to email the writer, and he gave me work as a ghost-writer/blogger for his company.
  • Met my closest male friends in Texas because I read an online review of a new brewery in Texas one Friday in December 2014, and spontaneously decided to go there that night.
  • Most of my current social dynamic is because I joined a gym, which initially I was probably going to flake on, but became passionate about because I lost two freelancing retainers so I had more time during the day.

Look, I’m all for planning and I understand the importance of it. I use me some Trello boards for everything. I  budget. It’s all good.

But stop and think on this: how many times in your life have you done something — any action — and thought “Oh, I’m just doing this thing, whatever?”

Years later, that small action has butterflied (yes, I know this whole thing is Butterfly Effect) into 568 other things impacting your life.

Life is random, right?

That’s beautiful in a way.

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. Boy do I know a thing or two about plans either diverging or taking a nose dive to a fiery crash. I have also seen (retrospectively, of course) the butterly effect unfold paths for myself as well. It truly is amazing how small events or interactions can beget larger life outcomes. However, it’s still a good idea to have some kind of a plan as a launching pad for whatever else comes up.

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