Forty miles from the nearest Scottish inhabitants lies the remote island of Borelay, one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Ringed by a treacherous coastline and pounded by furious seas it was always clear to experts why Borelay was devoid of settlements.
Except it wasn’t. Archaeologists have found evidence that prehistoric people once lived on the island. How did they get there? How did they survive? The answer may be lost in the mists of time.
Or maybe they went there because no one told them they couldn’t.
“Want to make God laugh? Make plans,” goes the old adage.
The best stories are those where the main character makes plans to do something and then the unexpected happens. The ship sinks, aliens invade, the wedding is called off and an assassin shows up. We like that, happily grabbing a bag of popcorn and munching away hoping the director heaps more grief on the hero while we root for him to come through.
Except we don’t like it when it happens to us. A flat tire on the way to work? Derails our whole day. Skiing injury? The month is shot. Unexpected layoff? Kills a whole year.
But life is all about dealing with the unexpected. A fantastic lesson in this is “Life of Pi,” if you haven’t seen it, (or read it) it’s recommended. It’s these challenges—both big and small—that test us, promote us, and cause us to grow and change.
Dealing with the unexpected becomes particularly important when someone is paying you to deal with it. Now you not only have your own challenges but those of colleagues and clients.
You’re a character in your own movie, and the screenplay still has a lot of pages to go.
Volkswagen’s Super Bowl 2013 Game Day Commercial “Get in, get happy,” is a fun start-of-the-week pick me up. While you may not have an enthusiastic Minnesotan with a Caribbean accent in your office, you probably have some of the negative-minded folks depicted. Hey, complaining is easy to do.
When sending an invitation to someone via Linkedin, take a moment to compose a quick introductory note rather than using the default message. Few people seem to do this, since using the default is easier.
Doing little things that other people don’t feel like doing can lead to bigger things.
I caught the end of a radio interview with a hundred-year-old woman. The interviewer asked the cenetarian for the secret to how she handled the myriad trials and tribulations that had been visited upon her during her journey through life.
“When you climb a hill always know there’s another hill, and another hill after that,” she said. “Once you come to accept that there’s always another hill, you will have far less aggravation and stress in your life.”
Dung beetles spend their nights rolling balls of dung to hiding places where they are used as food. Rather unpleasant.
Like many unpleasant jobs in the real world, though, the work the dung beetles do plays an important role in nature and agriculture. Without them, the planet would be a much dirtier place. But we often judge creatures (and people) by what they do—or what we think they do—because it’s convenient. Consider the lion, respected as “king of the jungle.”
If an anthropomorphic dung beetle were to be featured in a Disney film it would probably be portrayed as having one of the least desirable jobs in the animal kingdom. A bumbling, comically-rendered character rolling balls of dung would make an obvious target for gags. It probably wouldn’t be shown as smart, or as some sort of stargazer.
But that would be a mistake. Because dung beetles are more than what they seem. You might say they are cosmically-minded. Incredibly, these beetles use the Milky Way to navigate. Perched upon a ball of dung, they orient themselves using the panoply of stars splashed across the South African sky. No other creature is known to do that. How many people can do that?
Imagine, knee deep in feces, with tiny eyes, and they’re aware of the symmetry of distant stars.
If that sounds weird or outlandish it shouldn’t. The past hundred years have shown us that. Tubes of metal that fly people across the Atlantic in a few hours? Outrageous. Buildings with over 160 floors? Impossible. Ten-year-old kids with communication devices far more advanced than anything portrayed on Star Trek? Absurd.
If you could be printing your own meat via an ink jet, then you might be doing anything a few years from now. That includes what you’ll do for a living. It’s very possible the job you’ll be doing doesn’t exist yet. It may not have been thought of yet.
How to you prepare for that? Embrace the weird and outlandish. It’s the new norm.