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Chapter Eleven Strengthening Your Talent for Serendipity

Stories told to us in childhood can have lasting effects on us. When Horace Walpole was a child, his mother read him ancient Persian fairy tales such as Scheherazade’s stories about Ali Baba, Sinbad the sailor, and Aladdin. As an adult he recalled that he enjoyed hearing “a silly fairy tale called ‘The Three Princes of Serendip.’ As their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of….” In a letter he wrote to a friend on January 28, 1754, Walpole said he had created the word “serendipity” to describe a talent he had—an ability to discover good fortune in accidents and misfortune.

Serendipity, according ...

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