Synchronicity, both beautiful and challenging

Posted on July 15, 2014

Synchronicity Silhouettes - School of Parrotfish

The term, synchronicity comes from Carl Jung, who first coined the phrase in the 1920s.  Jung saw synchronicity as two or more events that are meaningfully related, though they may not be causally related. He first developed the idea while treating a patient who dreamed of a golden scarab. During the session, as she described her dream, Jung found a golden scarab. The insect was rare for that part of the world and the timing was a striking. Jung saw synchronicity as more than random coincidence and noted that it is more likely to happen when we are in a heightened emotional state.

Synchronicity and serendipity are like sisters, similar but not quite the same. Serendipity is the sweet and surprising little sister, synchronicity is the big sister with edge. If serendipity is the coming together of opportunity at just the right moment, providing you are ready to see it, then synchronicity can be opportunity or threat at the best or worst moment. It’s like waking up with a brilliant idea, then finding that your client has had the same idea, but so has your competition.

Synchronicity at the pool could be about a wonderful ballet that defies gravity. Those beautiful twins who are both mirrors and mimics in the water. Synchronicity is the dance of fireflies performed to the music of night creatures. It is also the crowd that becomes a mob.

To what degree we are creatures of synchronicity is unclear, but like flocks of birds or schools of fish we are connected to one another. I think we send things out into the universe and the universe responds.  That’s the beauty and horror of synchronicity. If we send negativity and aggression we will find violence and rejection. If we send joy and peace, those things will also wing their way back to us.

My single mindedness at work has helped me avoid pitfalls while those around me stumbled and fell. It has also unnecessarily excluded me. My love of team has had me proudly singing in a choir of ideas and it has caused me to chase red herrings as part of a pack. That’s the challenge of synchronicity, it doesn’t tell us when to follow and when to lead. It isn’t always good though it is often appealing.

The older I get, the less often I find myself engaging in negative collective behaviour.  I’d like to think it’s a sign of growing wisdom.  More likely, it’s a consequence of my profession. The communications sector forces me to continually scan the horizon.  What’s coming, what’s trending, what’s sinking, what’s changing are some of the questions I have to ask on an ongoing basis.  When I stop asking, then things like LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest show up and change all the rules of engagement. Asking means I learn all kinds of things along the way, some pertinent for now, others relevant for later.

Looking outward on a regular basis also disengages me; it sets me a drift. When strange or counterproductive decisions are made back at home base, that’s what they look like to me, counter productive and strange.  I don’t get distracted by the internal culture or prevailing paradigm because I’m not embedded in them.

Strong personal values do the same thing. They ground you, give you a moral compass when things get foggy. They inform your decisions and guide your actions. When synchronicity wants to pull and lull you, your values will provide guidance.

What about you? Have you ever gotten into synch at just the right time?  Had an amazing coincidence that left you surprised or inspired? Or have you travelled down a road only to ask yourself later, “What was I thinking?”

Image: Silhouettes – School of Parrotfish (Photo credit: CAUT)