Learn to embrace the unexpected

I heard a story once about a young man named Dennis. As the story goes, Dennis had just wrapped up a job interview at the local coffee shop. The interviewer had left saying only applicants under serious consideration would be called for a second interview.

“If your life is free of failures, you’re not taking enough risks.”

— Anonymous

I heard a story once about a young man named Dennis. As the story goes, Dennis had just wrapped up a job interview at the local coffee shop. The interviewer had left saying only applicants under serious consideration would be called for a second interview. Dennis knew he’d blown the interview and he was angry with himself. And the old dude sitting in the corner staring at him didn’t help matters.

“Who conducts an interview in a coffee shop?” thought Dennis. Especially a crowded coffee shop where people can overhear a conversation. Just then the old fellow stood up and walked over to Dennis’s table. Dennis was startled and annoyed.

“That didn’t go too well, did it, son?” said the old man. “Mind if I sit down?”

“And just who the hell might you be?” asked Dennis.

“The name is Sam,” said the old gentleman, holding out his hand. When Dennis didn’t reciprocate, Sam shrugged his shoulders, sat down uninvited and crossed his arms.

“You can ask me to leave,” he said. “Or you humour me for a couple minutes.”

“Oh, what the hell,” said Dennis. Leaning back in his chair, he gestured for Sam to continue. Sam explained that he had once owned a successful construction business. He’d hired and fired a lot of people. Over the years he’d gotten “pretty darn good” at reading people.

“I can see you’d be a good hire,” said Sam. “But that fella will never know it.”

Opportunity often presents itself in unexpected ways. In Dennis’s case, it arrived in the form of a surprise connection with someone offering him some invaluable employment advice. Reluctant at first, Dennis allowed Sam to share his wisdom. That took courage — a willingness on Dennis’s part to step out of his comfort zone.

And as it turned out, Sam was not in the habit of imparting unsolicited advice but the young man struggling through the job interview reminded him of someone — himself nearly 50 years prior. He decided to risk rejection and step forward.

When you open yourself up to the unexpected, you open yourself up to life. Sometimes we try to keep life under wraps — predictable — so we can never be caught off guard. If such is your standard approach, then consider your motivation. I would hazard a guess that you’re coming from a place of fear. Fear keeps us in locked-down mode and stalls our personal growth.

The truth is, nothing happens unless we risk — nothing ever changes unless we face the unknown and embrace the unexpected. When we risk, we’re often the richer for it.

A great way to overcome fear is to start working on self-esteem building. A good way to begin the process is to identify your fear.

As odd as it might sound, instead of trying to ignore it or run away from it, let it into your life a little at a time. Allow your fear to sit quietly while you watch it carefully.

Go slowly. Allow yourself to gradually feel the discomfort and allow your mind to follow the fear to a point of origin. Approach your fear with an attitude of love and self-care. If you fail to investigate and embrace your fear, you’ll remain defined by limitation.

Here are a few great reasons to embrace the unexpected. What’s in it for you?

Embracing the unexpected will bring a greater level of awareness and personal understanding.

l Challenging current perspectives. Unexpected events and people often shift us into reassessment mode. Challenging old ways of thinking and being can lead to a greater understanding of self and a broader world view. This opens the door to possibilities.

l Meeting new and interesting people. When unexpected people show up in your life consider letting them inside. You can learn so much from people who are different than you, whether it’s age, a different cultural background or different beliefs and aspirations. Too many of us live in a predictable (and boring) world of beige. Our life should be a colourful and vibrant mosaic.

l Taking a life detour. Sometimes the unexpected takes us in new and exciting directions and that can be a wonderful thing. New places and people bring new and fresh ideas into our world. Looking back, some of the best experiences in my life were not pre-planned but happened because I accepted the challenge of travelling a new and unexpected path unfolding before me.

l Changing your plans. It’s good to have a plan but we also need to be open and flexible. Embracing the unexpected can broaden our horizons, bringing awareness of opportunities we never considered before. Recently, an unexpected phone call sent me down a career path I had never considered — one that has proven challenging yet infinitely rewarding.

l Experiencing unexpected love. Sometimes we find friendship and even love in the most unexpected places. Open yourself up to the possibility of something amazing happening.

Allegedly, Sam and Dennis spoke for nearly an hour. It was a captivating conversation with the old man sharing insights and the young man eventually scribbling notes onto a napkin.

Keep responses short and to the point. It’s about you but it’s not. One of the biggest mistakes folks make is talking too much about themselves. Rambling on is never a good thing.

Control your nerves. Take a deep breath before the interview and try to relax. A little nervousness is fine. Too much will make you tense and unable to think and speak clearly.

Keep it real. Don’t try to fake it and convince the employer that you’re someone or something you’re not. Even if it gets you hired, the truth will soon be revealed on the job site.

And there was apparently one final lesson that Sam relayed to Dennis: Trust your gut. Sometimes you just have to walk over to someone (in need) and ask, “Mind if I sit down?”

“You have to take risks,” wrote Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho. “We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”

The unexpected can be food for the soul if we allow it inside with an open heart and mind and a hearty appetite for personal growth and self-esteem building. After all, every experience — the expected and especially the unexpected — brings us awareness and growth.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.

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