Wikipedia commons
Source: Wikipedia commons

Hiring new people can be a chancy adventure. As head of psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I had to find and hire new faculty members. The usual process involved advertising in psychiatric newspapers and making calls to colleagues in other cities. My method was different. Most of the faculty I hired just showed up. There were five women whose collective stories were particularly striking. Soon after accepting the position, each of the five became pregnant. The second, third, and fourth each had twins. The fifth had been trying to get pregnant for several years. She, too, got pregnant soon after being hired and gave birth to a single child.

When women of childbearing age find satisfying work, they become more relaxed and more able to conceive children, so having a new job can increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant. The string of twins that occurred here becomes more surprising, however. To follow a basketball analogy: In a single game when a player reaches double digits in points, assists, and rebounds, it is called a triple-double. My department scored a triple-double—three women with twins.

The first woman, who had a single baby, stayed for a few years then took a job that paid twice as much in a warmer climate. Her departure represented a loss of the department’s investment. The fifth woman joyfully raised her single child with us for less than two years because her husband found a better job elsewhere.

The families of the triple-double stayed. Two of the three women divorced their husbands and went on to make outstanding contributions to the department, as did the third woman, who didn’t divorce. The serial coincidence in the “superfertile” environment of our department helped achieve the desired longevity of three excellent faculty members.

People with reciprocal needs found each other. These women needed a safe, comfortable nest for their planned families, and our department needed helpful, committed faculty members. The three sets of twins sealed each deal. The three women with twins put down their roots and stayed for now close to 20 years.

Organizations are increasingly considering the use of synchronicity in their decision making and planning. Philip Merry is a one time family therapist who has been consulting with businesses for more than 30 years. His message: expect and help to create meaningful coincidences in your organization. Listen to the details here.

References

Beitman, Bernard (2016) Connecting with Coincidence. HCI: Beach, Florida

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