…and the 3 ancient princes


Aside from the fact that it’s a fun word to say and to think about, I’ve always thought of serendipity as the occasional “happy accident,” and associated most strongly with the “accidental” part. But somewhere along the way I read something that hinted it might actually be a skill. Which implies that a person can get better at making it happen in their life.

More happy accidents? Count me in!

Researching the word “serendipity” led me down this rabbit hole of definitions:

Serendipity: accidental sagacity (huh??)

Sagacity: the quality of being sagacious (oh yeah, VERY helpful Emoji - rolling eyes)

Sagacious: acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment; astute, clever, creative, discerning, enlightened, experienced, foresighted, ingenious, insightful, intelligent, learned, perceptive, practical, sage, shrewd, wise

Well, then.

The story of the word’s origin is much more interesting.The 3 princes of Serendip

There once were three princes from the land of Serendip (the name itself being the result of a Persian mispronunciation; the country being modern day Sri Lanka). They were exiled from their country and dropped into a new and foreign land, where they had many adventures and near-misses with tragedy. But they were dauntlessly optimistic, and over and over again they were saved by their own… um… sagacity, I guess.


This ancient tale eventually spawned both the word “serendipity”, and the Sherlock Holmes genre of fictional detective characters.


So it’s true.

For most humans, sagacity grows as you age, especially if you keep a growth mindset. And I know for certain you can become more optimistic. It’s a matter of awareness, perspective, and practice.

Many of the most memorable happy accidents in my life seem to have involved other human beings. You can also improve your ability to make people-related happy accidents happen more often.Crowd of strangers on the street

You start by talking to people. All around you. And yes (sorry introverts), that can mean complete strangers.

At worst, connecting with people you don’t – or hardly – know (weak ties) is good for your health (well, OK, barring the rare psychopath; I’ll take the odds). At best, something magical will happen. These are the conversations that lead to a new business connection, matching up your best friend with the love of her life, or re-connecting with a long-lost childhood playmate.

Concidental alignment

Brain science proves that once you become aware of something, the filters on your senses are modified, and you’ll start to see it around you more often. By looking for serendipity, you’ll automatically experience more of it in your life.

On their journey of exile, the Brothers Serendip chose to see (optimism!) – or manufacture (sagacity!) – a good outcome from every event and circumstance they encountered.

You can too!

Lorri Anderson

Lorri Anderson

Lorri Anderson is an expert consultant to businesses and a powerful coach to individuals. After a long and rich career as a strategic HR executive, she is driven to give back by changing the Human Experience in today’s workplaces, one business or human at a time.

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