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William S. Cottringer

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The Magic of Serendipity
By William S. Cottringer
Last edited: Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2002

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William S. Cottringer

• 20 Writing Tips for Better Results
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This article touches upon key personal experiences that reflect the mystery of serendipity.

William Cottringer

The goal of personal growth is to become the best you can be. This process can be greatly accelerated when you learn to tune into and take advantage of the magical moments of serendipity. These are the special moments when life whispers important clues that have to do with you and your journey.

When you pay attention to these clues you make progress at becoming content and successful in what you are doing. When you miss or ignore the clues you continue to loiter, move in the wrong direction or wander around aimlessly. You fail and remain unhappy. Below are some important moments of serendipity that offer valuable clues to help you become happier and more successful in your journey toward becoming the best you can be.


At some point in your life you will sense a nagging gap between who you are and who you want to be. When you have the courage to start exploring the shadows of this gap, you discover many litter gaps making up this big one. If you are lucky an important transformation occurs that enables you to shift your focus from external things to internal ones. This transformation enables you to understand the futility of trying to control things and change others and see the wisdom of changing yourself and making real progress.

This shift also helps you become acutely aware of the important distinction between what your mind thinks you want to what your soul knows you need. This is the beginning of your sorting through chaos in order to restore order in closing all the little gaps that keep you from being who you want to be. Who you want to be comes from all the clues that have been trying to tell you who you are meant to be.


One of the most powerful moments of serendipity for many people is the one that allows them to slow down long enough to finally see the intimate connection between the choices they make and the consequences they get. Many times this important clue shows up as a déjà vu experience, where you get the vague notion that you finally need to get it right this time around. You may be running out of chances.

This sudden Karma insight helps you uncover your true power in making choices each new moment. Time seems to stand still to allow you to make a difference in the future. Using this power to make the right choices from here on out is what can help you become who you want to be, closing one small gap at a time but feeling enormous satisfaction from immediate results. The difficulty in life is the choice.


One of the most deeply hidden secrets is why you are here. Some think that we each make a sacred contract to accomplish some unique purpose in exchange for the opportunity to live our lives. This notion is a difficult one to dismiss. It is just too intriguing, without any apparent downside. Genuine happiness, success and contentment do seem to elude us until we find out what our purpose is and then start making progress to fulfill it. That is one of those "connections" that are waiting to be discovered by serendipity.

The clues to discovering this secret contract are extremely subtle and the hiding place may be the best of all- right under your nose. After all, the obscure takes a while to notice, while the obvious may take even longer. Of course there are lots of people trying to hand out clues, such as parents, teachers, family and friends. In a way it is a shame that we are convinced that we have to figure out everything all by ourselves. But there is another serendipity moment just waiting to change that idea.


Along with the idea that we each have a unique mission here in life, many feel we are also blessed with a special gift or talent for carrying out our mission effectively. Again, this notion is a difficult one to dismiss easily. It has many positive implications and no negative ones. We are all truly different from one another in regards to our abilities, knowledge, personalities, learning styles, characteristics, motivations, strengths and weaknesses. Somehow that gift may be hidden among those things.

Until you take the time to see what it is you seem to do the best and enjoy the most, this talent may stay dormant. However, there are clues to help, just like with remembering your contract. We all have a tiny piece of the puzzle and when we start sharing our pieces with each other, we get a much bigger and clearer picture.


This may be one of those hindsight realizations. I know it has been for me. The more I look back over my life, the more people I think about who were trying to tell me something important, but I didn't always listen to their whispers. I was too busy creating chaos in trying to become who I wanted to be, on my own.

Meaningful encounters with important other people with whom we have valuable information to exchange, happen all the time. They are not random or chance encounters. It is unfortunate when we miss these opportunities or mistake them for something else. The way to approach these moments is to follow your intuitive hunches. What have you got to lose? My own understanding of serendipity came from many reoccurring meaningful coincidences I have had. Sharing secrets and suspicions is a serendipitous way to close the gap between who you are and who you want to be.


A particularly wonderful and awesome moment of serendipity is the instantaneous, profound understanding of the underlying unity of all illusory opposites. This is a truth that eludes us for what seems to be an eternity. Unfortunately, the two different sides of the same coin often happen so far apart in time or distance that you can't see the connection. During much of the time we are stuck with 180-degree vision, so to speak.

Many of us also have this strange obsession of focusing mostly on differences rather than similarities. The clues are there in the similarities though, we just aren't looking close enough. Night does turn into day and good does emerge from the worst of tragedies. Putting things back together that we took apart earlier, is one of the gaps we need to close to feel the sense of "wholeness" we crave in making real progress in our journey.


The most important moment of serendipity for me was a humble realization about what little I actually knew compared to all that is available to know. I am also proud to say that all I think I know may not necessarily be so. This flash of humility set me free to become a student again and start learning what I don't know in order to make progress at closing the gap in becoming who I want to be.

Without the need to feel insecure or be defensive about the correctness of all my precious beliefs and knowledge, I can now ask questions to find out what I need to know. This openness also allows me to pay more attention to listening to all the clues offered by others during the frequent meaningful coincidences to which I am becoming more sensitive. Oddly, my piece of the puzzle seems to be getting bigger.

Serendipity is a natural and graceful style of life. You are not really sure whether you are actually exercising your free will for the first time or finally just accepting your destiny. For some strange reason they both seem to be the same thing. This might be the ultimate moment of serendipity we are all searching for. That is my suspicion.

William Cottringer is a business consultant, sport psychologist, college teacher and writer from St. Louis, MO. He is author of You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too. He can be reached at (314) 531-2000 or


Reader Reviews for "The Magic of Serendipity"

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Reviewed by lynda mckay (Reader) 1/18/2004
I really like what you write. You are my serendipity today. I needed your words and here you are.
Reviewed by Mason 9/23/2002
Useful ideas and practical information... Dr. Cottringer is on the mark!
Reviewed by chuck zimmerman 9/23/2002
have read much of Dr Cottringer's work; here as usual, i find him insightful, thought provoking and understandable
Reviewed by Deisha 9/22/2002
Great Articles-Much time and effort goes in to such great writing. Continue the wonderful work.

Books by
William S. Cottringer

Reality Repair

Reality Repair Rx: Knowing What's Up and What's Not

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Do What Matters Most

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P Point Management

The Bow-Wow Secrets

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Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..

You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too.

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Signed copy!
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..

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