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Expect the unexpected

When the unexpected happens, and it will, how do we respond?

There is certainly nothing new in the statement, “expect the unexpected,” but sometimes we need a little reminder to keep us prepared so we do not panic or compound the issue by making rash judgments or bad decisions.

I’ve experienced this recently myself as I have been cruising along, working hard, traveling for client meetings. Everything was fine, even better than good. Then, all of sudden, some health issues in the family arose, an injury to my arm, a death in the family of a very close friend, and a major plumbing fiasco at my home all happened simultaneously.

Even with my very best preparation and mindset for “expecting the unexpected,” I was a little put out by everything that was happening, seemingly all at once. There is something to be said for rolling with the punches, but this barrage of right hooks and left jabs was indeed overwhelming.

The first thing I did was take one step back to isolate each of the events that were responsible for causing such immediate turmoil in my life. I actually wrote them all out on a sheet of paper, and that alone was a huge relief by itself because I felt like I had already taken step one towards regaining control of what was happening all around me.

If you read this column regularly you already know I am a big believer in lists. But a list is only good if you actually do the work or follow up on the actions that support or fix the items on that list.

So I listed all of those sudden and unexpected issues and then wrote down who could help me and how they could help me. I created a game plan for each one with my support people, telephone numbers, action items, due dates, and expected outcomes. I also estimated any expenses that would be associated with each one.

One of the biggest challenges for me is my calendar. With all of the events, meetings, and activities that fill my schedule, the first thing I needed to do was get busy changing dates and rescheduling events or finding people who could fill in for me where appropriate. Once this was done I had another huge sense of relief. Now I could focus on all of the “to-dos” and action items necessary to address the rest of the madness.

“Expect the unexpected.” If we can get our head around the fact that the unexpected will happen from time to time, we will have a much greater opportunity to produce a positive outcome, regardless of the situation. Panic is our worst enemy when facing the unexpected. Stay calm, take a step back, create a list of what needs to be done and include all the people or resources who can help you. By doing this you will replace that chaotic and confused feeling with a sense of control and empowerment, and that is an awesome feeling.

I would love to hear all about how you handle those “unexpected” moments in life at gotonorton@gmail.com. And I hope you will expect to have a better-than-good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of http://www.candogo.com. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.


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