“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.
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.
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.
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.