The Unexpected Gift of Randomness

I believe strongly in positioning yourself to deal with whatever comes your way. Hard work, knowledge, wisdom – all are critically important to accomplishing your goals in life. However, no matter how much we prepare, there will always be random events that happen outside our control:

People get fired unexpectedly.
Businesses fail.
People betray you.
Equipment crashes.
Circumstances change.
Accidents happen.
Misunderstandings spiral out of control.

I could go on and on, but you get it. Terrible and unexpected things happen out of the blue, and that’s why our response matters. As pastor and radio teacher Chuck Swindoll says: “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.” So the next time you’re blindsided by an event or person you didn’t expect, here’s 4 important suggestions for turning things around:

1. Embrace it. Stop denying it happened, or analyzing it to death. Either option only delays moving past the problem. The moment you accept it, you begin moving forward. I love the quote by William Arthur Ward: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” The sooner you adjust the sails, the faster the journey will continue.

2. Get past your immediate emotions and be realistic about the size of the problem. Very often, what “feels” like a huge problem is actually more solvable once you look at it objectively. It may take a few hours – or even a few days or weeks – but the ability to step back to see the problem for what it really is – without emotion – can make a significant difference.

3. Look at the bigger picture. Most people get so stuck in the problem, they can’t see past it. I was unexpectedly fired at 36, and at the time I had no idea what to do, but looking back it was the best thing that could have happened. It forced me to move to Los Angeles, we launched our new company, and my life took a completely different trajectory. Had I not taken a bigger view, I might still be in the same city, going down the wrong path.

4. Finally, never forget that this can be a new starting point. Sometimes an unexpected jolt can simply push you aside for the moment, and at other times (as being fired did for me) it can launch you off in a dramatically different direction with a new timetable and updated goals. So don’t always look at a random challenge as a setback – it could be a new start.

Remember this post for the future, because it’s not about IF the unexpected will happen, it’s about WHEN the unexpected will happen. You can’t always be ready, but you can be in position to weather the storm.

Photo by Nikita Ignatev on Unsplash

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One Comment

  1. One thing missing from your list is a sudden illness that can throw you off balance in both your professional and private life – and how you react if it doesn’t go away as quick as a common cold.

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