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Luck and Coincidences in Event Planning

During a 1957 baseball game, Phillies outfielder Richie Ashburn hit a foul ball into the stands, breaking a woman's nose. As she was being carried off on a stretcher, he hit another foul ball. That one hit her too. Coincidence?

In 1950, a church in Nebraska exploded shortly after choir practice started. All 15 members of the choir were late for practice that day so no one was injured. Coincidence?

Weird coincidences are fascinating and mysterious, and often seem unexplainable. They make us smile or even laugh at their ubsurdity. (I have a doozy to tell you about in a minute). In my corporate mentalism programs, I liken the feeling the audience gets by participating in my "mind mysteries" with the "brain tickling" effect of a strange coincidence.

When coincidences affect us directly and the impact is negative, we can't believe our bad luck. Why me?! What did I do to deserve this?

Take the event planning process. Your client asks for a specific venue for his meeting on a set date. You put that on your task list and the next morning you call the venue. The conference manager says, "Oh, we just booked that date 10 minutes ago!" Bummer!

Or this happens: Five minutes before she is about to present, the speaker you hired notices the bright red "low battery" indicator on the wireless microphone that was provided by the venue. Just as the words, "You've got to be kidding" are leaving your mouth, you realize that the mouse in your laptop case at your side runs on the same type of batteries as the microphone. It takes you less than a minute to switch the batteries and the green light comes on. WHEW!

Both scenarios are small but weird coincidences. You might call them strokes of good or bad luck. But as the saying goes, we make our own luck. By anticipating as many potential hazards as possible and determining how to avoid them or handle them if they do occur, you can swing the fickle finger of fate dramatically in your favor.

In the first instance, if you had contacted the venue right after the meeting with the client instead of waiting until the next day, that bummer of a coincidence would have been avoided.

Likewise, by anticipating small details such as having extra batteries on hand or in an emergency kit, you won't have to rely on a lucky coincidence to save the day. Preventative quality assurance can make all the difference.

In the event planning business, sometimes the stars seem to align and everything goes perfectly, but there are also times when nothing goes right and bad luck compounds upon bad luck. But preparation and forethought can thwart even the worst of luck.

And now for that doozy of a coincidence I mentioned. A 10 year old girl named Laura Buxton released a balloon with her name and address on it, which floated 140 miles and landed in the back yard of a house where there lived a 10 year old girl named... Laura Buxton. The girls were the same height, which was unusual because they were both tall for their age. They both had brown hair and wore it in the same style. They both had three-year-old black Labrador Retrievers at home, as well as gray pet rabbits. On the day of the meeting, the two girls both wore a pink sweater and jeans and brought their guinea pigs, which were the same color and even had the same orange markings on their hindquarters.

For an interesting read on the supposed randomness of coincidences, check out this link from Learning Mind.

Now go make your own great luck!

- Steve


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