Do you hate it when things don’t go the way you planned? Does it frustrate you when things don’t go as expected?
Most people, of course, respond negatively to unpredicted changes in their expectations. Unexpected circumstances are usually seen as bad: the time that you spent preparing for something that is now NOT going to happen feels like a waste; your plans for smooth transitions are tossed to the wind; your dreams of success in an endeavor are threatened.
Someone quits, new technology doesn’t work, new competitors come along, and you're thrown for a loop. Ah, but consider the value of the unanticipated in your life! A leadership motivational speaker once suggested that the most amazing things that happened to him were unexpected. Looking at my own life, I think this is true.
Motivate company employees with unexpected things instead of generic reward programs that create entitlement.
There is a lot to be said about the unexpected and how it impacts our reality.
The value of the unexpected:
It brings you into the present moment. No matter how busy and preoccupied you are, when the unexpected occurs it brings you square into the present, forcing you to deal with reality.
It’s memorable. People remember unexpected things (i.e. - Not many people will forget September 11th).
It balances expectations. Human satisfaction lies in our expectations, many of them based on assumptions that can be unrealistic or incorrect. When unexpected things happen it releases the tension of assumptions and expectations and creates a more balanced perspective of reality.
Unexpected events can change your life - often times for the better. Often the unexpected really isn’t unexpected, but happens because we ignore reality and balance is shifted to the point where something 'unexpected' has to occur to adjust our reality. For example a divorce or a job change happens because somewhere the relationship isn’t working and we’ve successfully ignored it- until now.
The unexpected is the foundation of humor. Dr Norman Cousins suggests a good joke leads you in one direction and than comes smashing into an illogical idea (the punch line).
A joke is a surprising connection of two illogical ideas. Your mind is going one way when suddenly you are forced to go in a new, unanticipated direction. A joke is funny because the punch line is unexpected. If you understand the joke and get the connection, you laugh. With this laughter comes the release of endorphins and stress reducing hormones. Most people don’t laugh at a joke when they have heard it before because the punch line is expected.
It makes you creative. As Arthur Koestler points out, the basis of humor is also the basis of creativity—the unexpected joining of dissimilar elements to form a new whole reality that makes sense. For example, Hutchins put an alarm and a clock together and got an alarm clock, Lipman put a pencil and an eraser together and got a pencil with an eraser, Someone put a rag and a stick together and got a mop. Most new ideas are created from bringing together what is already there.
Handling the unexpected teaches you to be flexible. It forces you to deal with the way things are, not the way you wish they were. Dealing with the unexpected better equips you to meet unexpected challenges the next time, and the time after that. Most people think unexpected events are bad, but sometimes they’re not; they are memorable, they balance our perspective, put us in the moment, decrease tension, and make us more creative.
Unexpected things- the sudden left turn when you were expecting the road to go straight can actually be good for you.
Leadership and Diversity Expert Jody Urquhart