From engineering… to wandering

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of listening to Author and Innovator David Pearl sharing his insights on how to find wonder in the everyday, every day, and for the first time since the current Covid-19 crisis began, I gave myself permission to Zig Zag again. And it was GREAT!

crossing crossroad street

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David began his talk by reminding us that we are conditioned to think of the body as a life support system for the head, or more specifically the brain. More and more is being demanded of us, and in response we are using more and more of our ‘intelligence’. This reminded me however that when we think of intelligence, our instinct is to think only of IQ – our Intelligence quotient – or, what we know.

This got me thinking that since lockdown began I have felt very reliant on the power of my mind to keep me going. Leveraging my IQ in the form of my existing knowledge to press ahead and stick to my plan to achieve my goals… BUT is this the right approach?

Three key things stayed with me after the conversation ended that made me think ‘No, perhaps not’…

Getting lost is GOOD!

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

Photo by James Wheeler on

David began by reminding us that we are constantly, subtly, encouraged to follow a straight path, that plans are good and there is an assumption that if we deviate from this straight and narrow, that we will somehow get lost. He throws this up in the air by reminding us that “when the world around us is wandering, it does not make sense to go in straight lines”.

In fact, the very meaning of the word ‘career’ means to move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way, so relying on a concrete career plan driven only by what we know can encourage us to screen out all the distractions in the world around us. Instead we should see these external (and sometimes internal) distractions as stimulus, unlocking our creativity and showing us new opportunities.

Meandering and zig zagging are good for the body, the soul and the mind, after all “being lost and feeling lost are two different things”, so from now on, even if I feel lost, it does not mean that I am lost!

Embrace Serendipity!

everything is connected neon light signage

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Rather than focusing on figuring out what you are supposed to do, turn your energy to understanding what is trying to happen. Allowing for the possibility of connections between things, people and feelings that you cannot or have not orchestrated, can help you focus on the ‘why’ rather than being consumed by the ‘what now’.

Embracing the concept of serendipity – the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way – can alleviate some of that feeling of pressure that you, and only you, are responsible for the opportunities in your path. As David says “intention endures, despite changes in circumstance” and it is always worth the reminder that we can control our intentions, but only influence our circumstances.

Author the Future!

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Like many others, I have found myself thinking a lot about what happens when we get ‘back to normal’, but David points out, this thinking leads us into a trap. There is no ‘back’, we are only able to move forwards. Yes we might borrow from the past to shape the future, but it is still the future – by definition ahead of us, not behind us.

With this in mind we have a responsibility to make decisions now that ‘the future’ would thank us for. Not only is it important to think about our personal decisions, but also how we work with and lead others at a time of ever greater uncertainty.

These decisions also need to go beyond IQ, but be guided also by our emotional intelligence (EQ) and our physical intelligence (PQ) – allowing that our body’s capacity to incite ideas, encourage creativity, and open up new opportunities is as important, and using that telltale feeling of the ‘hunch’ deep in the stomach can guide our decisions and shape our future in ways we have not planned for.


So, instead of ‘engineering’ my way through my career, or my life, I’m going to instead zig and zag a bit more than I have allowed myself recently and, taking a Chinese proverb David shared with us to heart, “walk across the water stone by stone”, feeling that little bit more balanced hopefully!

photo of river during daytime

Photo by Ionut Cerchia on


(Note about David Pearl: David Pearl is an innovator who works in business, the arts and social change. Through his books, talks and events, he engineers experiences that shake-up working cultures, inspire performance and change lives for the better. ‘Wanderful: Human navigation for a complex world’ is David’s third and latest book and explores a forward- thinking system designed to help people answer their life questions and find new non-linear direction in our complex, AI focused world.  Find out more at

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