In all of my leadership work, there is no doubting what captures people's imagination more than anything else - synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences.
Coincidence implies that two events have happened at the same time, as if by chance. However, it is possible to define two types of coincidence. The first involves pure chance where there seems to be no particular significance in the coincidental events. The second type of coincidence is when the event seems to be full of significance.
Carl Jung labelled such events as "synchronicity". This type of event may seem to the outside world to be meaningless chance, but to the person who experiences it, the opposite is true.
In leadership and personal development circles, it has become a hot topic, driven largely by the success of James Redfield's publishing phenomenon, The Celestine Prophecy.
I believe in synchronicity at three levels. On a basic level, it happens to all of us, and we need to look out for it happening. This level is a reflection that all of our lives are interconnected, and our reaction to these events is usually one of amazement, disbelief, and feeling good. These events happen all around us, every day.
On the next level down, it is linked to the strength of our beliefs, convictions and certainty. I believe that life stands aside for those who know where they are going, and when we as individuals, teams or companies are absolutely clear, focused and certain of what we are going to achieve, events will conspire to help us.
This will happen automatically, for two reasons. First, success really does breed success; when a project team is together, as one, and driving forward they will remove barriers, leap hurdles and attract the resources they need. Second, when we know where we are going, we will always be looking out for events, people and support to help us get there.
Isn't it strange that, in our culture, we are more than happy to believe in negative "self-fulfilling prophecies", while being less inclined to accept the positive parallels.
The deepest level of synchronicity is when we simply expect such events to happen, as part of our everyday lives. This is the most challenging to accept, although people who talk about experiencing this third level can provide scores of examples that happen to them every single day. And yet those who do not believe in it experience none, on any day. Now there's a clue.
A clear, compelling vision, combined with total belief in its achievement, and action, will be enough to open your eyes to the synchronicity that is already happening around you, in your career, project and personal lives.
It is interesting to look across many IT departments and companies, and business in general. Without exception, those with a clear vision, and positive certainty, almost always succeed, and those who see life as a roulette wheel, or each day as a disaster, almost always fail. Whether that is evidence depends on what you believe, of course.
David Taylor's Inside Track, a provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now. It is published by ButterworthHeinemann: 01865-88180
This was first published in October 2000