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How disruptions can be the most beautiful part of life

If you are like most of my clients, you want to be in control of how things go in your life. You want to make a plan, and execute the plan, and have the outcome you want.

But but then a random thing pops up and ruins it all.

The other day, I saw a video clip that illustrates this very phenomenon.

A young violinist is playing a serious, intricate piece. Then, all of a sudden, the moment is interrupted by an obnoxiously loud Nokia ringtone going off in the audience. The violinist stops, clearly annoyed. The moment is ruined.

Let me pause the story here for a moment. I know you have had many moments like this in your life. Times when you were in your zone, striving for a goal, and someone or something derailed it.

Like my client Jill who planned out the family she was going to build with her husband, until one day he told her he wanted a divorce.

Or my client Josh who planned to be a professor, until he realized that academia wasn’t actually a fit for him a few years into his graduate work .

Or my client Carrey who had made a fragile peace with her mother-in-law, only to then have her mother-in-law’s health take a turn for the worse and need to move in with Carrey and her husband.

Which of your carefully laid plans have you had wrecked recently? How did you respond?

Likely, you felt irritated. How dare that person/place/thing derail your plans? Maybe you felt despair. Will things ever turn out for you? You wish you had a magic wand to make the world bend to your will, your plan.

Let’s go back to our friend, the violinist:

The violinist pauses for a moment. He seems lost in thought. Then, to the surprise of his audience, he plays the tune of the ringtone, Grande Valse by Francisco Tárrega. The audience laughs. The violinist continues to play the song, from memory, and then returns to the ringtone refrain. The audience thunders its applause, and he laughs as he bows.

Instead of getting angry and brow-beating the audience member and struggling to get back to his original song, the violinist embraced the interruption and made it part of the concert.

How could you embrace disruptions and make them a part of your life, just like he did?

To live a joyful life, we need to deliberately weave everything that comes our way into the tapestry of our lives: all the experiences and people and dreams and feelings and conversations and thoughts and moments. Very few of which are under your control. They all come together to create a work of art, and the more you can embrace each and every peculiar thread that comes your way, the more beautiful of a masterpiece you can create with them.

The violinist wove a beautiful image with the Nokia ringtone. What will you weave with the disruptions in your life?

Jill used her divorce as an opportunity to understand and expand herself in new, fulfilling ways… and to get ready for meeting the actual love of her life.

Josh accepted his realization about academia and set out on a process of discovery that ended him up in a policy role in Washington.

Carrey embraced her mother-in-law’s moving in as a way to strengthen her relationship with her husband: by caring for his mother, she was caring for him.

I am not saying that embracing and working with these disruptions is easy. Especially at first. It can take weeks, months, or years to design with the curve balls that come our way instead of trying to duck them. But at the end of it, you can look back and admire path through life that you have built. Maybe you can’t claim to have originated it, but you can claim to have designed it.

Where are you resisting incorporating disruptions into your life? What would it look like to build with them, not around them? Write me a note and share.

Disruptively yours,

Image courtesy of Great Milan

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