We know how to solve problems, and we even know how to innovate. But have we mastered the ability to make the most out of unexpected events? Many people call this “opportunism.”

I call it “veer,” because it’s a deviation from the standard and expected track. We veer off the road of the tried and true.

To me, veer is an unforeseen, often irrational development (e.g., a chance meeting with a benefactor in an unlikely setting, or a random discovery or revelation). Newton saw an Apple fall, as had everyone before him, but posited gravity. One of the early powered flight advocates saw gulls soaring on windy days but flapping their wings on still days and realized that lift was created by the speed of wind over the wings. Powered flight ensued.

I became an exchange student, which changed my life, because the program was introduced for only one year during which I held two key student positions that provided my nomination, and I won the honor by beating the competition in an interview challenge in front of the faculty.

How equipped are you to deal with veer? Anyone can drive on an expressway, and even follow the detour signs when the road is closed. But how many can truly capitalize on the detour?

© Alan Weiss 2015

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