Alice MacGillivray

Supporting Leadership & Knowledge Work Across Boundaries

On Synchronicity

We’re trained—as Rupert Sheldrake points out—to treat what we might call synchronicity (or coherence, or connection and alignment, or the power of the mind as something larger than the brain, or the power of attraction) as coincidence.

That may be true. Yet I have had that experience that many of us have had, where if you open yourself up to new possibilities more than usual, synchronicity is amplified.

Take the last few hours, for example. I was working with a coach for the second day in a row: a sort of post-doc transition treat. Somewhere around 2 in the afternoon we spent time exploring the potential for a new level of working relationship with a colleague (we’ll call “Barry”) as we might collaborate on a project. A short time later, we moved to explore my picking up new or dormant hobbies and interests, such as the uninsured motorbike in the carport that has a dead battery, gummy cylinders and a rider who has lost confidence. I talked about how challenging it had been to learn to ride a bike in my late 40s (or was it really 50?). I thought it would be easy for a frequent bicycle rider who drives a stick shift, but it was probably the most difficult and exhausting thing I’ve done in my life.

I got home an hour later to find an e-mail from “Barry,” which had arrived at 2:20 Pacific. He apologized for being out of touch, but he was exhausted from the beginner motorcycle course he was taking. By the way, I am pretty sure Barry is older than I am.

I opened an online forum, thinking I’d share this story in a thread about synchronicity. A call for papers about social justice caught my eye because a colleague—Kurt Richardson—is on the journal’s editorial board. I’ve never heard Kurt talk about social justice, and I was curious what threads were woven together in this special issue. The first thing I see is that I know one of the special issue editors from a totally different stream of my life (Fielding Graduate University). Even more curious, I go to the journal website. There I see the names of two other board members: they edited a book in which I’ve just had a chapter published (different thread of life, different content, different continent, no connections I’d known of). I then open the “Call for Papers” link and the first item is an [expired] call about research and reflexivity (a topic I’ve been discussing with a person with whom I hope to co-author a book).

I must say this deluge of coincidences feels too intense to be, well, coincidental.

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