Synchronicity: A Lesson in Preparedness

“They’re gonna fire me for sure! They’ve found out what I’ve done!”

That was the panicked thought running through my mind as I awaited a meeting with the parents of two boys I taught private English lessons to in Taiwan. Little did I know, this meeting would lead to an unexpected and life-changing opportunity.

Teaching English to these boys was no ordinary task. They both excelled in grammar and sentence structure. But their language lacked the casual, colloquial flair necessary for navigating American high school hallways. Especially in a place like Boston where they were planning to go the following year to finish grade 12. Recognizing this gap, I took it upon myself to inject some much-needed slang and swear words into our lessons. This would help them avoid being stuffed into lockers when they arrived in Boston. The boys loved this approach and it greatly enlivened our lessons.

However, my unorthodox teaching methods came with a caveat. The boys were not to share our lesson content with their parents. Their parents were prominent figures in Taiwanese society and would never approve of such language. After this first unconventional lesson I went downstairs to leave their house and found that their father sitting in the living room watching the Taiwanese election. I hadn’t met him before due to his extensive business ventures in China.

“You speak Mandarin?”

Not knowing if he could speak English, I spoke to him in Mandarin. “hmm. You speak Mandarin?” he replied in a nonchalant and not overly impressed kind of way. Searching for something to talk about in the awkward silence that ensued, I remarked on the Taiwanese election which I’d studied in my University Mandarin class that whole week. When he asked me which of the four candidates I supported, I should not have answered as it is so contentious that it can end relationships. But I foolishly answered and gave my rationale for my choice. Again, he uttered “hmm” then stood up and said “follow me”. He took me to his study where on the wall was a huge photograph of him and the candidate I supported on the wall. Lucky guess!

A couple days later, the boys’ mother requested a private meeting with her and her husband for the following week on a non teaching night. Uh oh! “They’re gonna fire me for sure! They’ve found out what I’ve done!” Surely, they had discovered my unconventional syllabus and were ready to dismiss me in disgrace.

As I grappled with the impending humiliation, my wife urged me to face the music and attend the meeting. Reluctantly, I agreed, though every fiber of my being screamed for me to run in the opposite direction.

Meet the Parents

The meeting itself was tense, with both parents wearing serious expressions that only fueled my anxiety. But then, to my utter shock, they made me an offer I never saw coming—an opportunity to work at their manufacturing company as a foreign liaison and Mandarin interpreter/translator for dealing with western clients. A dream job that changed my life forever.

Was this a case of synchronicity? Or just a mere coincidence? No one can say for sure. But don’t you find it a bit odd how whenever we take positive action towards a goal, a seemingly providential occurrence like this encounter takes place to help us along. I’m not even surprised when it happens now. I actually expect it. “Oh there you are fortunate event/encounter! Right on time…as usual!”

But whether it was my dedication to learning Mandarin and Taiwanese politics that serendipitously guided me towards this fortuitous encounter or it was pure chance, the undeniable fact remains that preparation + opportunity = success. It was a reminder that when we set our intentions and take decisive action, the universe (or fortuitous ‘coincidences’ for you ardent nihilists) has an odd way of placing opportunities in our path.

BOOK ALERT!! My new book coming out in September 2024!

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