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Expecting the Unexpected

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Home improvement projects...

There is nothing quite as frustrating as starting a home improvement project, only to find you are missing a part. You then have to stop and go to Home Depot to find the missing part. When you get back, you make progress but then hit another road block, perhaps in the form of a missing tool. Once again, a revisit to Home Depot. Then you end up breaking something, and have to replace it.

By the end of the project, you have made a dozen stops at Home Depot and are on a first name basis with the clerks – having spent countless hours in back and forth trips, not to mention money and energy spent.

While this is a common experience I’m having to most do it yourselfers, it shouldn’t be, but it’s because I don’t have the experience common to this trade.

Even though I graduated top of my class in Electrical Engineering, and come from a family of engineers (with my father being one of the handiest men on the planet), I didn’t pick up doing actual work with tools. When it comes to engineering, I’m all book smarts but have no practical skills.

So I had a simple project to do: install a reverse osmosis water filter. I could have paid a handyman to do the work for $200, but I felt the project was so simple that I could complete it in an hour. Just drill a hole through quartz counter, then just hook up all the various filters and presto I’m done.

Simple enough, right?

Not quite. When I got the package, I had prepared for a 1/2″ hole, but upon seeing the drinking water faucet, the style didn’t match the kitchen. So I went to home depot to get a faucet that matched. I got back, and opened the faucet box, and realized the hole for this faucet needed to be a full inch. Return trip to home depot to get a new drill bit. And along the way I had a few more hiccups (nothing broken though).

So I spent much more than an hour on a simple project. My time was better spent paying a professional, but I felt like I had to do it just to prove something to myself, lol.

So there are various lessons from this that we can extend into all aspects of our lives.

First, when working a project outside of your expertise, consult an expert. You can spend hours fiddling around and making mistakes that an expert could have warned you about and avoided. Even when provided with instructions, they are not always accurate, and an expert has the experience to know what to do when a unique situation presents itself.

Second, expect the unexpected. Even when you are armed with knowledge, you should know what you don’t. The unexpected monkey wrench is likely to be thrown in your gears. If you are prepared for it, it is much easier to do deal with.

But how do you prepare for the unpreparable situation? It’s a paradox, so you can’t actually be prepared physically for it. You can, however, be prepared mentally for it.

If a project is supposed to take one hour and have 5 steps, you can plan for 2 hours. So when that monkey wrench comes in, you won’t go bananas – you will be mentally prepared for the curve ball and be in a better state of mind.

It would be like someone gives you a tip that someone is going to break into your house tonight. You have no idea who, when, or where they will enter. But you will be better prepared. You might arm yourself, set traps, and lay in hiding at what you suspect could be the entry point. Even if it isn’t the right spot, your chances improved just by being aware a problem was going to present itself.

Likewise, accepting the possibility that you may fail allows you to overcome failure. People who are oblivious to failure make no preparations for it, and when they experience a failure in their game plan, they fall apart. But someone who prepares thoroughly makes all sorts of contingency plans, accounting for various situations where a good plan could have failed, and how to over come it.

When it comes to the martial arts, these same lessons apply. You wouldn’t want to take training lessons from a white belt. Ideally, you are looking for someone who is a black belt and has a great deal of experience. For serious students, you strategize and make game plans on how you plan to fight. Good game plans account for various situations, allowing to deal with small “failures” and overcome them.

I would make many game plans for each fight. One would be my ideal scenario, where everything worked out like I would expect. My striking was working well, I was able to score the take down I needed, and be able to finish the opponent on the ground.

But then I had to have contingencies. What if I wasn’t able to setup my take down effectively? One plan could then be to forget take downs and go to a more striking orientated path to victory. Another plan would be to increase forward pressure to use the cage. Another plan would be to retreat, and get the opponent moving into me so I would be able to create a collision for easier take downs.

These plans are just talking about take downs, but you would have to make more plans for each part of the fight. In an ideal world, you would just have one plan and it would be perfect. But in the real world, you have unknown variables that you estimate, but can never be sure how they play out in the real world. Proper planning will allow you to overcome the unknown.

Does it take work? Yes. The more preparations, the more work. It also isn’t guaranteed to be successfully. But your odds definitely increase with more preparation and planning.

If this sounds like too much work, then you might need to hire an expert. 🙂

By the way, Black Friday is coming around the corner, so I will be sharing with you some special deals on my courses soon.

I also have two retreats coming up, one in Las Vegas and another in Thailand. Click below to learn more:


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!

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