Systema: Opportunity vs. Chance

I have just been reading a post by Marc Andreessen regarding Dr. James Austin’s book Chase, Chance and Creativity. I have to say Austin was onto something, but chance is a lot of poppycock.

Austin says there are four categories of chance:

  1. Uninfluenced Chance.
  2. Active Chance.
  3. Receptive Chance.
  4. Personal Chance.

Uninfluenced chance just happens to you. Active chance happens because you are active in your environment. Receptive chance happens because you have a body of knowledge that makes you receptive to your environment. Personal chance happens because your uniqueness as an individual makes you uniquely active and receptive to your environment.

I think “chance” is the wrong word. Austin defines chance as “something fortuitous that happens unpredictably without discernable human intention.” I don’t look at things that way.

Personally, I believe there is only opportunity. Opportunities are always presenting themselves and it is simply a matter of induction and deduction that determines whether we take advantage of them.


The opportunities that we have depend upon which systems we are inducing and deducing with. There is no magic called “chance”. The variety of systems we induce and deduce with determine the variety of opportunities we have. The variety of systems we induce and deduce with also determines the content and structure of our system which influences what we are capable of inducing and deducing when the next opportunity presents itself. Finally, the more divergent the systems we induce and deduce with are from the norm the more likely we are to encounter novel opportunities.

Opportunity is every system we interact with outside ourselves whether we initiate that interaction or not.

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