Does life serves up the unexpected?

Life may not always dish up what you expect

Have you ever decided what you want, set the appropriate goals, researched the way to get there, achieved a level of passion and conviction that you just know that you will be successful, set a seemly bullet proof plan and taken massive action towards your goal……and then it doesn’t happen?

What then?

Do you become discouraged, angry and give up or do you make changes to your approach and keep going? Conventional wisdom tells us that you only fail when you give up, but how long do you bang your head against the wall when the results are not there? It’s natural to get frustrated but how do you respond?

You can of course keep going towards your original goal or you can take a moment and look at what your effort has created. It may be something fantastic – history is full of such ‘mistakes’. For example Scotchgard, the world’s top-selling protective finish for textiles began in the 1950s when a laboratory assistant in the 3M research facility spilled a liquid being developed for aircraft use on her canvas shoe.

She noticed that not only was almost impossible to remove, but it resisted dirt and stains and stayed cleaner than the rest of the shoe. They recognised the product possibilities and Scotchgard was launched commercially in 1956.

The same is true of another 3M product, Post-it Notes. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, was looking for a super strong adhesive in 1970. Instead of coming up with one, he developed an adhesive that was remarkably weak so he shelved this ‘failure’.

It wasn’t given a second thought until 1974 when a colleague used the glue to keep bookmarks in place for his church choir. He also used the glue for notes in which he explained his idea to his 3M colleagues. In doing so they realised that the broad application was for notes – not bookmarks.

Teflon was discovered in 1938 at a Du Pont laboratory by Roy Plunkett who was experimenting with gases to find a new fluorocarbon refrigerant. He and his associates noticed that gas in a cylinder that had been stored in dry ice had changed into a white, waxy solid. Further testing showed that the solid was resistant to practically all chemicals, was not affected by temperature extremes and was extremely slippery.

Crucial to the success of these products was the ability to see the potential when the result was completely different to what they had expected: not to view it as a failure of the original goal but rather to see the potential in what was created.

In many cases the outcome can be far superior but only when we are in the mindset to see it. How many times have you been so fixed on an outcome that you have discarded or ignored something that could be even better?

Life can dish out the most unexpected meal for us but are we prepared o eat it?

Many of us have missed the ‘perfect’ job or been outbid on our dream house only to shortly after get a much better job or find a more beautiful home. Is this serendipity, meant to be or do we create the outcome that is right for us? Is this the Universe rewarding us or have we created it for ourselves?  

The answer is more to do with our attitude to life’s events and our reaction to them. There certainly may be an element of good luck in what happens but don’t we create our own luck? We see that the hardest working people are generally the luckiest but perhaps they’re also the most perceptive, having an ability to see how an outcome, positive or negative, can serve them.

Worst case it’s a learning experience but often it can be so much more, something completely unexpected, leaving us thankful for our seemingly lucky break. It’s all about how you look at it and quoting lawyer Dennis Denuto  from The Castle, it’s understanding the ‘vibe of the thing’.  

We’ve all heard the expression ‘when one door closes another opens’. Let’s be in the mind set to open that door and make sure what lies behind door number 2 is health, happiness, fulfillment, success and if it happens to be a garage door a red Ferrari would be nice!

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4 Responses to “Does life serves up the unexpected?”

  1. paulhassing Says:

    Thanks for the history lesson, WLBB; I didn’t know ANY of that stuff.

    There’s a white, waxy solid living in my fridge and I’m going to see what it’s good for! Wish me luck …

    Best regards, P. 🙂

  2. paulhassing Says:

    Damn fine picture, but the way! 🙂

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