When Plans Go Wrong

More Windsor Street Art
I remember reading one time that the Ancient Roman's view of chance in life was not to fight it, but to embrace it. If I recall correctly, they saw chance as an overarching feature of life that should be expected, and that we should welcome what comes. Even if I'm misremebering, this seems like the only real approach we can take. To do otherwise is to continue running forward when we clearly see a cliffs edge. Why not veer off to a side and cross the eventual bridge that comes?

Life Is Chance

When you look back at your life, how much of it was pre-planned to end up to this exact point? How long before you had to take the plunge did you have your plans set in stone? Now compare those two answers to the following: how many times have your plans been completely derailed? How many times did something big knock you off one track and onto another, completely unexpected one?

If your life is anything like mine, then you'll probably see that the final questions have a lot more (interesting) stories than the first one. I don't think it's any surprise that things will happen that make it so you have to have to take a last-second turn, or maybe a complete detour. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. 

If we look at driving as a literal example of our metaphorical life, the analogy works quite well. Most of the time, the mundane things will be going smoothly, but occasionally there'll be massive construction, accidents, emergencies, someone will cut you off, or maybe you, yourself, will be struck. Despite this, we learn to cope, we make due, and we become better because of it.
Old Windsor Building

Predictable = Boring

I've made this point before, but I'm going to drive it home once more.

Imagine a world where everything you planned to get - everything you wanted - went exactly as you planned it. That harebrained plan you cooked up to become a millionaire? No worries, it worked out and you're not super successful. Everything was easy and predictable. How does that sound? Great?

Honestly, it sounds like hell.

I mean really think about it. How much credit would you feel for any of your successes when failure wasn't even an afterthought? How many of your friends would be real friends? They don't really have a choice but to be your friend, it's just you choosing them. And that's ignoring the idea that they might be using you because of all your wild success.

This isn't to say that you should seek out drama and hardship. Hell, if you've got things going pretty well, enjoy it while it lasts. Like I said in another post, shit happens and it doesn't stop happening. Might as well get used to it and see each new problem as a puzzle that needs to be solved.

Windsor Stah

Calm Seas

Another point I'll make again is that having a life without any real "down swings" means that your upswings won't mean nearly as much, either.

Think of a time when you were swamped with work. Given that it's now December, which is almost synonymous with "crunch time," it shouldn't be that hard to think about. Now, think about how great you feel immediately after the crunch has released. Orgasmic, I know.

Now, think how you'd feel if you had never been under the stress and took the entire day to do nothing. While that may be nice, it won't be nearly as nice if you had no stressors.

The idea that randomness happens - and how it's possibly a good thing - is so common that a quick look will turn up several relevant quotes:
"Calm Seas never made a Skilled Sailor"
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans"
and even a quote from Zuckerberg:
"The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that's changing quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks"
See? This guy got creative on achieving
his dreams!

How should we handle Plans?

My suggestion? Handle your plans like you're dating them. Court them, see if they'll come around and whether things will work out. Unlike real relationships, I'd advise against proposing and marrying any of your plans, even if they seem to be working out. Doing so will likely lead to a potentially large blindside in the future.

If you're determined to get down on one knee for something, I'd suggest you keep the end goal in mind, but have keep the means fluid. Even better, have backup plans for how you plan to get there. Court many different pragmatic plans for your ultimate dream goal. Or, put a better way:

"Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods"

Basket of Eggs

As the old adage goes, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." If you do, a simple trip up can cause them all to smash and you'll wind up with egg on your face. Double cliché.

Really, there are two approaches to this situation: Either you diversify your eggs into various baskets, or you learn how to make omelettes out of all the smashed eggs for if/when your single basket hits the floor.

Weird Cat

Success is Courting Uncertainty

As it's been said, the level of success you reach is determined both by the number of difficult conversations you can have, and - more relevant to this topic - how well equipped you are to handle uncertainty.

If you're an employee, you do your job daily, and you do it well. Presumably. Despite that, the company can still goes bankrupt. How much responsibility would you feel in that outcome? You didn't have any real part to play in the downfall of the company, as it was the leadership's choices that likely led it there.

If you're the CEO/President, you have all the weight of the decisions. Will this approach work out for you? Who knows - you have to gamble a bit to see whether it does or not. Being more successful means taking on more of these risks and more of these chances. Sure there are more safe choices than others, but sometimes taking the "safe" choice is actually more risky than striking it out. Recognizing the difference between the two is the mental struggle of any leader.

Investing your Ego

As has been thoroughly pointed out in the book What I learned Losing a Million Dollars, investing your ego in any financial or business decision is a terrible idea. Just because you made a decision, doesn't mean you should commit yourself to that decision for the rest of your life. Some decisions, frankly, are terrible decisions. The sooner we can admit to that, the better off we'll be.

It's not uncommon for an idea to appear like a good decision - maybe it was a good decision at the time - but then conditions drastically changed and it no longer makes sense. Then it's time to cut our ties and let it go.

It's an Inspiration!

What's the Point?

Take everything with stride. Learn to be adaptable, malleable. Your goal might be financial freedom, and, as they say, there are a million ways to make a million dollars. Get out there, get trying stuff, and keep trying different approaches until something hooks and takes off. All it takes is one decent idea, one different approach, or even one great connection to make your dream into a reality.

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