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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? 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, 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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