Never Plan for the Worst Case Scenario

I was in line at Costco, buying light bulbs and toilet paper, and noticed that the man behind me was looking me and my cart over with suspicion on his face. Eventually, he said

“Hrmph. Mercury.”

I wanted to say “Pluto?” but instead I said, “Sorry?”

“Those bulbs have mercury in ’em. So dangerous they’re illegal to manufacture in this country.”

“Well,” I said, “I live dangerously.”

Trying to keep it light, as I’m feeling a bit put off.

“Hope you don’t mind ripping out your carpet when you break one. And God help you if you’ve got kids – It’s poison.”

He doesn’t look concerned as he says this, mind you; he looks disgusted with me.

“Well, I’ve been using these a long time, and I’ve never, not once, broken one.”

I can’t believe this. This guy has some unmet needs, for sure.

“It’s gonna happen sooner or later.”

He won’t let up.

I had a revelation once, when I read the book The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Tim does a splendid job of spelling out the despair we find ourselves in when we constantly plan for the worst-case scenario. Fear keeps us from living our best lives. When I read that, I realized that I have sometimes let fear of the worst-case scenario make me edgy and force bad decisions.

I recalled that in this moment, and turned and looked him square in the eye and said,

“Well, I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t make decisions based on fear of the worst-case scenario.”

This stumped him. He gave me another “hrmph” and turned around, scanned the cart of the guy behind him in line, settled his gaze on the case of bottled water and said derisively, “Hrmph. I don’t miss buying water.”

It makes a good story, because it’s kind of funny, and the day-to-day stories aren’t as amusing. But this notion is freeing —

When we stop making decisions based on fear of the worst possible outcome, we explore more possibilities.

And, if the worst does happen, it may open up an unexpected opportunity.

DSC_0768_2Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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