in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me."
— Carl Sandburg
I reckon that many of the "unexpected" good things that came to Sandburg did so for two reasons: 1) he was engaged with the world, and, 2) he had put something out into the world: poems, histories, novels, service, and ideas. I believe that when a person does this, a lot of unpredictable, previously un-thought-about things can happen.
I know that's been the case for me. Many of the unexpected, positive things that have come to me have been the result of my putting something "out into the world." Over the years, I've created a number of creative thinking products: books, card decks, software, tapes, seminars, conferences, games, etc. And once out there, these products have taken on a life of their own.
As a result, I've had a chance to meet people and share my ideas on six continents. But had I not put anything out into the world, I doubt many of these good things would have happened.
I remember a meeting I had back in the mid-1970s with Wally Davis, the co-founder of Mayfield Fund, the prestigious venture capital firm. I was just getting out of college, and I asked him for advice on what industry I should go into. He said,
"It really doesn't make that much difference. The key thing is to get your product or service out into the marketplace. The marketplace is smart with a mind all of its own. It will give you all kinds of ideas and surprising feedback. If you're lucky, it will create new opportunities for you."
I took from this meeting the idea that it's important to get engaged with the process and do something. Not too many surprising things come to those who sit around waiting for something to happen.
What reasons can you think of for the "unplanned, unexpected" good things that you've received?