Dealing with the Unexpected

Polar BearImagine being on a camping adventure in the Arctic. One morning you wake up and what was solidly attached icy ground the day before has broken away and is now an ice floe adrift several miles out to sea.

You’re stranded! I read this story in the local paper and it is apparently what happened to a group of tourists and their guides  in the Canadian Arctic. Not exactly a situation anyone had expected.

Dealing with the unexpected is something we encounter all the time. Probably, not to the extend I just described but the story raised the question for me “How do we deal with the unexpected”. Can you plan for the unexpected?

As a small business owner or independent professional you know the importance of creating a solid foundation that will focus you, give you direction and keep you inspired and motivated to create a business that serves your life.  To get there you need to plan. But the best plans will inevitably need to be adjusted “on the fly” because of unexpected changes.

Now, some of these unexpected changes actually happen daily in the form of fires you need to fight. However, hidden in that fire-fighting often lie opportunities. You see if you ignore those pesky day-to-day issues and don’t deal with them effectively eventually more serious problems happen. For example, the unexpected e-mails and phone calls that get you off track might have started as an issue that annoyed you, but now it’s gotten worse and has turned into a problem, perhaps even a crisis. You can actually do something very tangible about these situations; some of these seemingly unexpected events may not be so unexpected but are the result of ignoring to put processes and procedures in place when these events started out as annoying daily issues.

But what about those unexpected things that are truly hitting you out of nowhere? You may try hard but you cannot control or plan for those kind of events, circumstances or people for that matter. What you can control is your response. Here are a few ways to respond that I believe are key to being prepared and dealing with unexpected events:

Learning to be flexible means that you practice letting go of control or being attached to a particular outcome.

When you’re resilient you have the strength to cope with and recover from unexpected situations.

To develop and strengthen your ability to be flexible and resilient takes practice and self-reflection. Unexpected situations may sometimes seem overwhelming, but really it all has to do with being able to “go with the flow”, adjust to the situation and see if you can find a spark of humor in it. Appropriate humor that is. The kind of humor that can diffuse tension and sometimes can start creative juices flowing to find a solution for the unexpected situation.

How do you deal with the unexpected? Share your comments below.

What happened to those people on the ice floe – they were rescued after a couple of days. I’m sure they went home with an unexpected bigger story to tell about their adventure than they had envisioned. Even though it never really was – camping in the Arctic is officially off my bucket list!

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