Expect The Unexpected

Yesterday I had a simple medical procedure that I expected to go relatively quickly and to be in and out of the Doctor’s office in time to make it to work without using up too much of my vacation time. Things did not go as I expected. Sure, the procedure itself went well, but as I got up to leave, that’s when the unexpected hit. I suddenly didn’t feel well and needed to sit down. The next thing I knew I was surrounded by medical staff checking my pulse, putting cold wet towels on my head, lifting my feet up on to a chair, and talking a mile a minute (I won’t get into all the other icky details).

Basically, I had passed out from what they termed a vasovagal response. Well this threw off my anticipated day but in the end, I did get some needed rest. I have been pushing myself quite a bit lately and hadn’t been sleeping well so on the bright side I did finally get some sleep.

Reflecting upon the events of the day, it caused me to consider how we deal with the unexpected. Either we can become frustrated and angry, or we can view it as a learning opportunity. Unfortunately, I have seen too many of us get frustrated and angry and I admit I’ve had that response my share of times. So how do we begin to see the unexpected as learning opportunities?

Our expectations are a result of our confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen. We get a mental image of something occurring or we use a standard of conduct or performance to measure others against. When things don’t turn out the way we thought, viewed or measured, we actually experience disappointment, either disappointment with others or ourselves. This disappointment is usually expressed in anger or frustration. However, if we realize that we are not God and we cannot control the future or others but in fact the only two things we can control is 1) our inputs, that is our actions and 2) our outputs or our re-actions, we will begin to experience greater freedom.

In other words, freedom comes because we understand we have the ability to choose our response to our stimulus or the things that happen to us. If we view them as opportunities to adjust our response, we have learned something. Therefore, the key is the moment between what happens to us and the moment we respond to what has happened. This moment is critical in how we will be perceived by others and even ourselves. When we make it a pattern to ignore this moment and respond instinctively we typically focus on self. However, the more time we can buy in this moment affords us an opportunity to think through our response and how we desire to be perceived, we now can focus on others and their needs, which typically is a much better decision. Hence, all the advice about counting to 10 when ever you get mad, or taking a walk to clear your head etc… applies here.

I believe the golden rule is extracted in this very important moment – do unto others has you would have them do unto you. Remember, gold is only extracted by digging deep and refining it. Therefore, no one expects us to be perfect, but when we error, we need to admit it and adjust accordingly. I encourage you today to dig deep before reacting to an unmet expectation and refine your response. In the end, you may even begin to expect the unexpected for the freedom it affords.

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