Learning to Expect the Unexpected

By Scott A. Yeager, M.A.

Driving southbound on state Route 255 in the early morning on the day after Christmas is an eerie experience. The road is devoid of traffic, especially at 5:45 a.m.

The last thing that you expect to see as you near DuBois are the blue and red lights of fire trucks, as they race onto Interstate 80 to answer a call of distress.

The first thought that runs through your mind in an early morning encounter like this is, “I hope that everyone is OK.” Of course, your thoughts then gravitate toward the obvious, as you consider that your route is the same as the racing first responders. “What a way to start the day after a holiday?”

Opting to take an alternate route to work, you send good thoughts in the direction of those who met with tragic circumstances, noting that you were mere seconds away from being among them.

Perspectives can always change rapidly, and with them, so too do our plans for the future. Some 2,500 years ago, a philosopher by the name of Heraclitus declared, “If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.”

At first glance, the old philosopher’s words might appear cryptic and, well, philosophical, but upon further consideration, they are very pragmatic and encouraging.

The modern insurance industry and the practice of managing risk are founded upon a concept of active learning and planning that is akin to Heraclitus’ concept of expecting the unexpected.

Like the driver in the scenario above – which, by the way, is not a fictional account – we often encounter the unexpected in our lives, even on very quiet mornings after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.

Each new year, many of us consider several things that we would like to bring to resolution in our lives. We strive to make each year somehow better than the last.

But what happens when our plans encounter the unexpected? For many of us, the unexpected causes us to retreat in our execution of those aspects of our lives that we would see brought to resolution.

Fortunately, Heraclitus provided us with some additional insights when he said, “that which opposes, produces a benefit.” With the right planning, we can improve our quality of life, even when our plans encounter barriers or obstacles.

Back to the driver’s experience mentioned above – how simple is one’s desire to just get to work? We travel from point A to point B all the time.

When we meet with circumstances that shock or stun us into considering an alternate route, we must beg the question, “Do I move forward, back or do I move forward another way?” Such is our common reaction to change.

We have a plan. We have a set course. We have a resolution. As humans, we have change. How we adapt to it says a great deal about how eager we are in our pursuit of our goals.

The insurance industry seeks to protect our goals, our ambitions and our quality of life. Risks and catastrophic circumstances are inherent aspects of the human experience.

From a financial and a practical vantage point, we insure ourselves to help insulate our chances of enduring hardship. Those aspects that oppose us will ever produce a benefit to us – if we can endure.

Our lives are enhanced by such experiences. We learn and we gain a new perspective on why obstacles are often merely opportunities in disguise.

This new year take advantage of the unexpected circumstances in your life and in your relationships; for on the other side, you may just keep that resolution to make your world a better, richer place.

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