a man hand doing the shaka sign

Tough Situation? Hang Loose!

Recently, while staying in an upscale hotel in Houston, an elevator got stuck with a bellman trapped inside. The fire department was called to free him, and they used some equipment I had never seen before. In fact, I had never observed anything quite like this before in a modern luxury hotel. While this sort of breakdown might not come as a surprise in a small, older elevator, it’s something you’d never even think about while riding one in a place like the Four Seasons. It was, I realized, a typical illustration of how the things you least anticipate can occur from out of the blue in places you’d least expect them to. But then, over the years I’ve found that a number of my most successful ventures have been due to chance or unlikely occurrences.

Here’s an example: On a bright Sunday years ago, while puzzling over a client’s problem, I wandered into a theater where the movie “Forest Gump” was playing and ended up arranging the licensing deal for the real Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

That’s why, watching the drama of this stuck elevator play out, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how much our fortunes can depend on unforeseen factors over which we have no control. No matter how carefully calculated the financial projections or business strategies we devise, there’s always that unanticipated thing that can suddenly enter the picture and alter things for better or worse. When that happens, the best way we can react is by not allowing ourselves to become mentally trapped by whatever our original plan was, but to hang loose and see where such a surprising new development might lead.

Staying relaxed might also be the best way to respond in the eventuality you ever actually become stuck in an elevator. That is, provided you’re not claustrophobic (which I hope wasn’t the case with the unfortunate bellman). But speaking for myself, when I flew on to New York the next day, I stayed on the bottom floor – and took the stairs.



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