How to deal with sudden, the unexpected and abrupt shock or surprise.

According to Murphy’s Law, ‘anything that can go wrong, will wrong.’ This is a supposed law of nature. The Law will always hold, whether you like it or not. We all know very well that our friends, loved ones or significant others, will – at one time – in line with Murphy’s law, experience a very big problem, setback or a bad surprise [I’m sorry if you’re scared, but we cannot hide from truth ‘every living thing has got challenges and it is never immortal!’]. Well, what we don’t know is the timing – we don’t know when our car will breakdown or when our career will hit a snag.

There is no problem without a solution. We can adequately contain the situation once it comes. The way we handle the aftermath is what matters. Below, are strategies for handling difficult times and big life surprises.

Never act on your impulses.

Try to stay calm. Remember that your judgment and decision are the key assets and will be killed by stress and emotions. We all feel good when we get to know that we are not alone in problems. Good counselors are so, because they have a database of all kinds of problems and bad things that can befall people, and a list of those experiencing them. When you are told, so and so had the same problem you get relaxed somehow. When you go to hospital with a headache, it cures immediately when you see people with cancer! The catch is, never ask yourself ‘why me?’ When experiencing a surprise, just think about friends or people who have experienced the same problem – and figure out what they did.

Seek advice

Don’t go it alone. Utilize people you trust for advice. As a rule, keep a list of these people, call or visit them regularly when you are doing well. It is better that the views of more than two advisers are sought.

Exercise and relax – stay healthy.

Fatigue affects personal reasoning, relationships and judgment. Eat your favorite dish, rest and exercise. When I’m annoyed, I get my Kung fu handbook and do all those Wushu/Martial Arts stances until am too tired to stand. After getting a rest, I visit friends and share my escapades. This eases my thought process and life picks as usual until the next misfortune. This is what I call a healthy state. Some people annoy you, purposely to disorientate you. Don’t let them win. Ignore them. Exercise and forgive – let their ego kill them. I am always amazed at how people plead for forgiveness when I chose to ignore them.

Don’t be a coward

Make tough decisions. They don’t get easier by delaying them. End a troubling relationship, leave a dragging job, sell an inconveniencing car (even if it means walking for some time), what matters is easing yourself from troubles sooner. I once used to spend the whole day annoyed after lending my car and receiving it in a sorry state. These days I find it easier to tell people openly that “my personal policy is not to give out my car.’ They remain friends and respect me, even more.

Always look for precedent when faced with difficulty. Has this happened to you, someone you know, or someone you’ve heard or read about? Are there responses already proven to be good, effective and practical for your situation?

Lawyers are bright because they support their views with case laws, precedents and etc…. Never act without looking for precedents because you may use a cost ineffective option. Try the internet, use Google. You won’t be disappointed. Some of you have confided in me with your personal and official difficulties, keep it up. I am there to advise where I can. I also keep a database/list of people who are specialists in practically anything consultable [from forensic audits to counseling of young couples] – call, I will give you free references.

Other life comments for successful living:

How many people have you taught recently. I can’t think of any place, college, university or school that would reject a request by a professional to volunteer some time with one of their classes. Have you taught anybody anything lately. Please, don’t be idle. Go to a secondary school and give a free Economics/Geography or career guidance lecture. The returns are invaluable. Students will know and remember you, your presentations skills will improve, you will revise while preparing – you stay current and above all – you will be useful to the economy.

Every month, I allocate 5-7 hours to provide pro-bono lectures to schools or NGO’s – free of charge. Sometime in 2006, I went to Jinja and I got stranded. No money on me, it was week-end and my car battery couldn’t self-start. I remembered I provided a free lecture to a school, and I had the headmaster’s personal mobile number. I called him up. You can’t imagine how I was facilitated. It was excellent. The man exchanged my battery and gave me his. He offered to take mine for recharge and wait for it, since I couldn’t as it was getting late. That is the power of probono. It is investment in the long-run.

Determine that person, issue or problem which is completely affecting your freedom and is driving you nuts, and allot 1 to 2 hours to eliminate it this coming weekend. Be it a broken appliance, a car battery which is not starting properly, shifting from a house where you’re not happy/comfortable, an article that needs to be written or an email to be replied. The one hour investment will save you weeks of worries and liberate you to concentrate on better business.

No need dream and have those wishes. Just do it. If you want to drive a Mercedes Benz, it is easy. Just find a dealer who has it and arrange for a test drive [It is best to act confident and smart and not to smirk or giggle while you do this.]  Before I bought a car, I used to have ‘test drives’ in fancy cars. Well, better to know what you’re missing than to not at all. I may not have the money to ‘waste’ on the Mongolian night or a buffet at Sheraton which may go for a hard earned $20, but I have enough money to go to Sheraton and have a soft drink at $2. What you need is networking, confidence and commercial awareness. I once got a good business deal because one of the panelists remembered seeing me at the ‘Sheraton Candle Light night.’ Now, the Sheraton Candle Night is an exclusive night. It is expensive. I always want to know what takes place out there. It is bad for a consultant to just keep quiet when stories like Mongolian nights, candle nights crop up during discussion with the client.

And a deal of your life time

Are you unhappy lately? Do you need pragmatic insights to open up your doors. Why not join my private mentorship classes?

The last presentation on the topic “How to Write a Winning Business Proposal” was sold out. We are organizing another one, in December 2013 for those of you who missed. For more information contact or call +256 (71) 984 585.

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Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2013. All rights reserved.

About M. B. Mugisa

Mustapha Barnabas Mugisa is one of those rare people who provides business consulting and advisory to professionals and corporate entities who demand the very best. He is a prolific speaker and governance (strategy and risk) expert. His speaking involves making key notes at major conferences and business events on both technical subjects and leadership skills. A change agent and motivational speaker. Mustapha provides tools and proven methodologies to remarkable results through making people appreciate change. Visit Mustapha's LinkedIn profile to know more. Mustapha is the architect of #WinningMindset Leadership and #WinningTheGame strategy approach that combines Harvard Business strategy Playing To Win, with the Blue Ocean Strategy and Balanced Score Card to deliver a strategy that is easy to execute and monitor. Visit for special insights to improve your condition. Are you too good to be great?

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