You could probably define my life as being filled with unexpected events. So much so that I believe many of the best things I’ve experienced in life, I discovered on the road to something I thought would be better. In this age of hyper-productivity, we set goals and then lock our eyes on the end result until it’s achieved. But in the process, we often miss serendipitous things that occur along the journey. For instance:
– I was a gymnast and track man in high school and competed in both sports at the state level. As a result, I had multiple athletic scholarships offered to me from East Coast universities. But my dad suggested I attend a “college weekend” just to see the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. I went just to make him happy, but the experience that weekend completely changed my thinking about college. At the time, ORU didn’t even have the sports I excelled in. But that seemingly random experience changed the direction of my life when I ditched the athletic plans and enrolled at ORU.
– I started college as a music major, until I met a friend in the dorm that introduced me to the film department. Although I had made amateur movies with friends in high school, media as a career never crossed my mind – until the professor played one of my films to his class. When they started discussing it, the thought occurred to me that if I can do things with a camera that make people talk, then this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. I never looked back.
– One night I attended a evening church service on campus, and by chance sat next to the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. She was wearing a hot pink corduroy pant suit with white patten leather platform shoes (this was 1973). I was smitten, and that student eventually became my wife.
– The first time I ever spoke publicly was at a conference where a speaker’s flight was cancelled. I just happened to be standing there and they asked if I could step in and do his workshop. It was completely unexpected, but today I regularly speak to thousands of people at conferences, seminars, and other events.
Career choices, friends, spiritual moments – I could go on and on about events that happened out of the blue, and yet had a profound impact on my life. And yet I meet people all the time who are so focused on a goal, they ignore remarkable things that seem to come from nowhere. Remember in John 4 Jesus was on the way to Galilee, but as he passed through Samaria he met a woman at a well and transformed her life.
Focus, and work hard toward your goals. But in the process, never lose sight of the unexpected moments that could change everything. After all, one of these days we may find out that it was those seemingly random moments that should have been our goal all along…