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.
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.”
Friday is a peculiar day. It’s a day some people wait all week for. “Thank God it’s Friday,” they’ll say on the elevator while you nod politely. Most people probably don’t realize they do this.
But you only get about 52 Fridays a year. So what’s happening to the other 312 days?
Figure out a way to get more Fridays into your calendar. This doesn’t mean more party-do-less-work days but taking that Friday enthusiasm with you all week. You once had it. As a pre-schooler you probably didn’t say “TGIF.”
Find something to get excited and enthusiastic about and spend your week chasing it down.
There’s an old Latin saying, “Qui docet, discit” (He who teaches, learns.)
You don’t need to wait until you have a teaching certificate, a particular degree, or gray hair to pass on knowledge and skills and inspire others. Volunteer to become a mentor, either formally through a program at work or school or informally.
You know more than you think you know; you bring your own unique set of skills and life experiences to the table. If you don’t know the answer, merely reply, “I don’t know but I’ll find out.” (You might even approach each day with that very question.)
The best teachers don’t preach to others, they learn from others.
So I ordered a doppio at the local Starbucks and the barista asked my name. “We’re trying something new,” she said. “We’re asking people their names.”
“Edward,” I said. (When in Rome, right?)
“Edward!” the barista repeated with zest.
I felt instantly welcomed.
It’s probably in Dale Carnegie’s classic, but its a known law of the universe that everyone loves the sound of their own name. It’s true. Using someone’s name gets their attention. It makes them feel warm and happy.
But many people don’t appear to make an effort to remember names. (Why bother, when you can just use “Dude.”) Some people even wear this trait as a badge of honor. “You know, I’m just not good at remembering names.” Well you should get good at it. It’s a handy little trick that doesn’t cost anything and it sets you apart.
When someone tells you their name pay attention and then repeat it back to them. And if it’s an out-of-the-ordinary moniker, make a confident effort, “That’s ‘Ag-a-mem-non’ you say? Nice to meet you!” They’ll be impressed that you are interested in trying to pronounce what they likely know is an uncommon name.
Plan “A:” You can do something you might dislike (deal with angry customers) and get paid.
Plan “B:” You can do something you enjoy (watch movies) without getting paid at all.
You can do “A” as long as you can put up with your circumstances and you need the money.
You can do “B” as long as you can go without a paycheck.
You probably can’t do A or B indefinitely. So you might opt for Plan “C,” falling into a life working a job you don’t like and augmenting it by zoning out in front of your flat screen during the off hours. You can get away with this for years. People understand.
Or you can make a new plan, Plan “Z,” and put on paper how long you intend to stay at your job, your options for moving within the organization or moving on, deciding where opportunities are and how you can leverage your skills, experience and interests to take advantage of them. But that takes some work, and you could fail. And the TV has 900 channels.