Most of us go through the day thinking that we’re pretty much on top of things.  Then, a business colleague or associate comes into our office; or a family member asks for a few minutes to talk; or we get a tweet, an email, or some other piece of information that catches us off guard.   Innocently, we ask “How long has this been going on?” and we feel the breath leave our bodies as we discover that something usually incredibly wrong or sad has been going on around us for far too long.

How can you keep from being blindsided by the unexpected?  Usually that occurs when your expectations of what has happened, is happening, or will happen don’t match with reality.  That happens to all of us; and it generally leads to a rather negative self-talk experience.  So, to make sure that blindsiding is less likely to occur, here are some recommendations for your consideration:

  1. Don’t shoot the messenger.  In a classic scene from The Godfather, the Don’s counsel is informed in no uncertain terms that the Godfather’s request to give a favorite god son a movie role will not be honored.  The Counsel thanks the movie director and says he will be leaving immediately because “the Don is the kind of man who wants to hear bad news right away.”    The messenger makes it through the next two Godfather movies.  The movie director has an unfortunate experience with his horse.

  2. Recognize the power of LOLO.  LOLO is not the latest entertainment celebrity.  This LOLO is an acronym for Lock On and Lock Out.  Basically, it’s the brain’s filtering system.  What doesn’t fit what we have come to believe gets off-loaded even before it has a chance to breathe on its own.  The brain takes in data and information;  stores it in bins labeled “truth” and “impossible”;  and then recalls our current version of “reality” based on what we stored in bins.  The result of this process is that we “act like us” and continue to believe what we’ve always believed and act like we’ve always acted.

  3. Open wide.  Dentists aren’t the only people encouraging us to open wide.  In this case, opening wide means sloughing some of those behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that keep us in a comfort zone rut.  Here are a few suggestions that will help you “open wide”: 

    • Expand your circle of advisors and confidants.  Listening to the same people all the time may reinforce your beliefs, but it won’t necessarily grow your body of knowledge.

    • Allow yourself to be confused by the facts.  Many of us are intuitive decision makers and our mind is made up by the way that we “feel” about something and/or our experiences.  That can make for self-limiting choices and decisions.

    • Rediscover how to be curious.  One of the best ways to do this is spend time with people who still find wonder and excitement all around them.  Lock out those who have mentally and emotionally chosen to rest in peace.

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