Dealing With The Unexpected


Hwai Tah Lee


2 min read

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Are You Ready for the Unexpected?

The shortest distance between two points is a curve. In life, things change. Circumstances change. People change. You change.

Life just happens. Life won’t cooperate sometimes. Nothing stays constant. Nothing ever stays the same the way you want it to be. Unexpected things show up.

There are no straight lines

Have you notice that there are no straight lines in nature? All the straight lines you ever see are man-made. We’re surrounded by artificial straight lines, because they’re simpler and more efficient. Straight lines create an impression of order, or probably an illusion of it.

We don’t like straight lines all that much. They rarely engage our imagination or emotional energies. Everyone recognises that straight lines in charts, organisation structures, highways, buildings and many other man-made grid-like designs don’t really reflect reality.

If you see some of the famous parks in the world (for example, Central Park in New York) where people just love to be there, there are hardly any straight lines. It feels like being in nature. It just feels natural. It feels right.

What you do with the unexpected

In the same way, you don’t expect your journeys in life to be straightforward. Why would anyone expect that?
Things don’t always go as expected, especially in your pursuits of big goals. Unexpected, undesirable things do happen.

It’s what you do with the unexpected that matters. That decision determines everything.

Here are three tips to deal with the unexpected:

1 Recognise that it’s only a momentary setback.

As the famous quote says, “Success is never final, failure is never fatal.” Whether “good” or “bad”, whatever you experience is never permanent.

Realise that things happen because they happen, and then move on.

The simple truth, “It’s a momentary setback” will help to keep you moving forward instead of getting stuck in your disappointments.

2 Ask yourself this question, “Am I willing to give power – a piece of my life to this?”

When you let a “bad” circumstance, or someone else’s bad decision-making, determine your destiny, you give them power and a piece of your life.

Decide instead to keep your calm and your power to keep you moving forward to take your next choice.

3 Be more curious than afraid. Whenever something irritates or frustrates you, look deeper.

Instead of letting the meanings of undesirable circumstances be cast in stone, reframe and ask empowering questions like these:

  • “What else can this mean?”
  • “What is deeper? What have I missed?”
  • “If this situation is profitable/beneficial, what would be its potential value?”
  • “What will it take of me to get around this setback? Who can I become?”

What bugs you the most may be what builds you the most, if you let it.

Embrace change, uncertainties and the unexpected.

Embrace life and its wonderful surprises. They are meant to work out for your good, if you see it that way.

All it takes is a simple switch on how you see your world, and how you respond.

Coaching poem

I want to end this article with a beautiful poem that I find truly inspiring and empowering:

I have a feeling that my boat has struck,
down there in the depths, against a great thing.
And nothing happens!
Nothing… Silence… Waves…
Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and we are standing now, quietly, in the new life?

Juan Ramon Jimenez

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