Unexpected things can happen at any moment—in your business or in your personal life. And, if you let them, they can knock you off balance and distract you from more important things.
Take last week, for example.
I was planning to return a car to the dealership. I was even looking forward to it because I was getting back the same amount I’d paid for it. And how often does that happen?
After hitting the gym and listening to Tom Toole’s 5AM Call, I was on my way back home when out jumped a deer, hitting my SUV and damaging the front grille.
Of course, that dominated my thinking when I reached home and, later that morning, the office.
When I told my video producer about how my day had started and my disappointment over what it would cost, he gave the response I needed to hear. Bobby said, “You know, Byron, the only thing you can do is just let it go.”
He was right. And I knew he was right. We had plenty to do that day that needed my full attention. I couldn’t go back and change anything that had happened.
I had to let it go.
Three Big Takeaways
I know it’s not easy to just let go of things that cost you—especially if the cost is painful. And hidden in that sentence are the three big takeaways from the deer incident and countless stories of unexpected and unwanted experiences.
Takeaway #1 — Things will happen when we least expect them.
It’s inevitable. Something will happen when everything is going well and when we’re busy handling the present or preparing for the things we do expect.
It’s going to happen in our business and our personal lives. And the odds are good you’ll have about as much warning as I did with the deer.
This is why it’s crucial to be prepared, as much as possible, on three fronts:
- Mental—Build mental habits that help you quickly reset and refocus your attention on the things that matter more, thereby minimizing the disruptive power of the unexpected.
- Financial—Create and implement a smart savings and investment plan to minimize the monetary cost of an unexpected disruption (business or personal).
- System—Have systems in place to help you get back on track, so you spend a minimal amount of time and attention on the unexpected disruption.
Takeaway #2 — Control your reactions.
You can’t stop unexpected things from happening. They’re outside your control. But you can control how you react to them. You control how much of your attention you give to them and for how long. And attention is power.
To repeat my video producer’s blunt and brilliant advice, you have to let it go and move on immediately. Otherwise, it will just distract you from the things you need to do.
Takeaway #3 — We all need to think a lot bigger.
Number three is a big one for this year as things shift and change in all of our businesses. We all need to think a heck of a lot bigger.
Just imagine if I was relying on that $5,000 difference I lost from that incident with the deer. Sometimes, there’s a loss of income or a loss of money you were expecting, and that loss is beyond your control.
When you rely on that money, you’re attached to it. And it’s much harder to let go of it when something unexpected takes it away from you. On the flipside, when you don’t need the money coming in, more of it comes in.
When you’re thinking big, you don’t obsess over little things that cost you, even when part of you was looking forward to what you lost.
If someone can remind you to “let it go,” and you do just that, your world expands.
All three takeaways—preparing, letting go, and thinking bigger—are for everyone, wherever we are as professionals. All three have to do with your perspective and your thinking habits, not the size of your income.
When we prepare for unexpected things, we lessen their negative impact. When we learn to let go of things that don’t define us, it’s much easier to be grateful for what we still have.
When we think bigger, even when unexpected things happen, we can assess the damage without being sucked into it. And we can get back to the things that need and deserve our attention.
Finally, these three takeaways complement each other. So, while you can focus on one at a time, make it a priority to cultivate all three.