A BAG FULL OF SURPRISES

By Joan Marques
____________________________________________________________

Have you ever taken the time to consider your life today and
compare it with the expectations you had five years ago?MPj04436600000[1]
Nine times out of ten you will find that things did not
quite work out the way you anticipated them to. Although you
may not be dissatisfied with where you are today, you will
probably still have to admit that several crucial issues
have taken a surprising course: your marriage may have
ended, your career may have undergone a radical change,
people whom you had expected to be around for a long time
may have passed away, and you may have turned into an
individual you would not have recognized five years ago!

It all lies in the hands of time and the encounters you have
with people, knowledge, and general experiences. Indeed: you
find your perspectives changing through the things that
happen to you: what used to be important at one time may
have no meaning anymore for you today. And this will
probably not only pertain to the people in your life, but to
events and goals as well. Paradigms shift continuously, and
the best way to cope with this process is to try and refrain
from setting goals that are too specific. You could, for
instance, just focus on making progress or being happy
instead of formulating in too much details where, with whom,
and how that should happen. Of course some strategizing is
necessary, but too strict a schedule may entangle you in a
web that is hard to escape from when the inevitable
surprises start popping up.

A man who expected his family to stay together till his
dying day suddenly found that his wife was leaving him. She
took the children along, and he turned into a lonely goat.
It took him three years and countless, extensive dialogues
with elders in his community to understand that the courses
of events in his life were not merely up to him, since they
were intertwined with other individuals who all had their
own desires and dreams, some of which – unfortunately – were
no longer in tune with his. He finally understood the
message and learned to accept the facts as they were
presented to him. He has since established a level of
understanding with his ex-partner, one that is better than
it ever was during their marriage, and he has been working
toward a more mature relationship with his – now grown up –
children. Gradually this man is regaining his balance,
meanwhile understanding that happiness today looks much
different than he would have envisioned it some years ago.

This simple example does not have to be limited to the
private areas of one’s life: surprises can occur just as
frequently in any other area. Business people know that like
no other, due to the fact that they operate in an
environment that is subject to influences from practically
all sides: unexpected strategic moves from competitors,
inventions that can make their product obsolete in a
heartbeat, or government decisions that can affect their
profitability or perhaps their entire existence, to name a
few. For this category of people, flexibility in dealing
with surprises is even more vital than for the ones that
expect the happily-ever-after dream to keep their marriage
together.

Life truly requires a level of management that should never
be underestimated: whether you are spending most of your
time in an airplane, a hotel room, your office, or just at
home. The bag of surprises is presented to each of us, every
day again. Some surprises taste sweet, but most of them have
a bitter foretaste. It is up to us, then, to adapt our taste
buds to these new challenges, and unleash our positive
imagination and our sense of humor on them, so that we will
be able to develop the right spirit in approaching them. And
then, five years from now, we will be where we expect to be:
in a better and happier place, no matter where that is!

Joan Marques, Burbank, September 19, 2003
____________________________________________________________

Joan Marques, holds an MBA, is a doctoral candidate in
Organizational Leadership, and a university instructor in
Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may
visit her web site at www.joanmarques.com Joan’s manual
“Feel Good About Yourself,” a six part series to get you
over the bumps in life and onto success, can be purchased
and downloaded at:
http://www.non-books.com/FeelGoodSeries.html

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