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Creative Career Path

Awaken the Ancient Butterfly2010.02.17


    In 1972 an assistant-professor of Meteorology at MIT named Edward Lorenz published a paper entitled, “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” Connected to Chaos Theory, and based on a computer model prediction that a slight change in data entry could utterly transform the long-term forecast, this phenomenon became known as the butterfly effect.

    Despite the fact that such changes are untraceable, and ignoring the influence of countless other butterflies in the world; the idea of the butterfly effect captured the popular imagination, and proved at least that a monograph in Massachusetts could create a massive movement in the popular culture, from film to literature, to television and music (

    In fact, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung introduced the basic concept as early as the 1920s, and published a paper on Synchronicity in 1952, discussing the idea of meaningful coincidences, and that not all relationships are clearly causal. Jung himself came upon the concept in studying a translation of the I Ching, the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, which dates to several centuries BC.

    People have debated about chaos theory and speculated about synchronicity for centuries. The argument over the butterfly effect may be the modern equivalent of Medieval religious scholars arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    I find it more interesting to get into the game. Better to combine awareness and action; to attract and act on opportunities.

    What makes a person lucky? If you focus only on the end result, it can seem totally random or unfair. However, when you step back and look at all of the circumstances, the preparation, the seeds sown, the receptive attitude, you can see that seldom is chance the reason for success.

    Roger Hamilton defines luck as a winning combination of four factors: Location, Understanding, Connections, Knowledge (LUCK), all of which you can do something about. Louis Pasteur famously said, Fortune favors the prepared mind.

    Knowing that Luck is a combination of factors helps. But if you want to remain in the game, you also need a strategy that makes intuitive sense.

    I became interested in the strategy of the ancient Game of Go (碁), ever since watching my father play when I was in elementary school. Two players alternately place black and white stones on the intersecting points of the lines on a 19 x 19 grid, in an effort to surround and capture stones and territory, while creating breathing space and connections with invulnerable shapes.

    The strategy of Go is all about connecting the dots by building bridges from remote locations. Don’t play too close, for by thinking too small you lose the big picture. Don’t lose focus, for by spreading yourself too thin you lose the opportunity to connect. It seems to me that this is a good metaphor for a creative career path.

    It also matches this message delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, when he delivered the Commencement Address to students at Stanford University on June 12, 2005.

    Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something ― your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

    Like the Ancient Butterfly, opportunity flees when pursued, and draws near when attracted. The secret of connection is to move less and attract more.


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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