Recently I had some unexpected events develop in my business. I do my best to plan for various contingents, but on this particular occasion I just didn’t have the information to have proper insight into this potential problem. We can’t foresee everything, so what becomes enormously important is our response to the unplanned and unknown.

My response was less than stellar. I allowed myself to drift into a state of desperation. The unexpected nature of this event, coupled with the subsequent anxiety I experienced, put me in a unique place and I began grasping at straws to a degree. I had left my designed strategy and had adopted a desperation strategy.

I didn’t do it on purpose, obviously, but it happened anyway. I don’t think anyone truly decides to utilize a strategy of desperation, but occasionally we find ourselves there. For those of you who have been there, you know that desperation is a cheap and stinky cologne. It does no one any favors and usually results in rash and pretty crappy decisions.

Instead of putting my brain in a half nelson trying to imagine every possible scenario or possibility, I decided to put some guidelines in place that help govern my response to the inevitable unknown that is bound to creep up from time to time.

Accept my inability to know everything

I have a tendency to view my responsibility to mitigate potential problems as a testing of my mettle as a business person. Having accepted that there will ALWAYS be things that come up I have no way of knowing, I decided to adjust the expectations I place on myself as a little more realistic.

Be authentic to who I am (or want to be)

I was responding to the uncertainty of the problem. I wasn’t allowing it to be an opportunity for me to fortify who I’m developing myself to be as an individual. Each time something unexpected comes my way, I can reference the values and character I want to govern my life and then respond to the challenge according to those things instead of allowing my anxiety to govern my actions.

Don’t diminish the value of others in my response

When things go awry, it can often happen at the hands of others. Perhaps they were mistaken in their assessment of things or they simply didn’t follow through on their responsibilities. Of course there has to be a level of accountability, but in the exercise of accountability I don’t have the right to diminish them simply because of my inconvenience. This is one of the most difficult character traits I’ve had to develop.

Understand that the world isn’t ending with any one event

I have been through a number of challenges in my day and I’m still here with no one dead in my wake. While contextually and circumstantially things may be amazingly inconvenient, you will recover. We aren’t defined by what happens to us but by how we choose to respond to them. It may seem like the biggest thing in the world but, from a healthier perspective, life does go on.

What are some of the things that you do to make sure you respond to the unknown well?