Winning Words

We can handle whatever happens next

Column by Michael Norton
Posted 11/11/20

In the words of Forrest Gump: “My mom always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The one thing that separates a good movie or mystery from a great …

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Winning Words

We can handle whatever happens next


In the words of Forrest Gump: “My mom always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The one thing that separates a good movie or mystery from a great movie or mystery is the element of suspense and surprise. As each story plays out, what will happen next will keep us on the edge of our seats, perhaps shock or scare us, make us laugh, and hopefully astonish us in a good way.

It’s when what happens next is completely expected that leaves us feeling a bit disappointed. I find that most of us who really enjoy mysteries and thrillers look forward to the unexpected outcome, and the twists and turns of a book, television series, movie, game or competition of any kind. It’s when we already can predict or even see what happens next that we lose interest.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. And although there are many of us who really enjoy a great mystery, there are many more of us who need to know the plot, the players, the situation and an ending that they had already figured out, or probably at least anticipated. Previously, we might have known the camp that we fell into; those who love a good mystery or those who really need to know what’s happening next.

However, this year has given us all a reason to try and get ahead of what happens next, wanting to know what we should expect and when we should expect it. We find ourselves asking things like how bad it will be, or how fast will it happen. In a book, movie, or game, it’s OK to leave us on the edge of our seat, but in real life, especially during this year that we have just lived through together, we want the answers before we take our seat or before the game starts.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I began to ask why. Why do we need to know what happens next? I asked friends and family members. I consulted business advisers and mentors of mine. And I asked some of you who read this column regularly. When thinking about the “why” of knowing what happens next, most people used words like fear, anxiety, worry, doubt, disruption and insecurity. The reality is that many of us are just uncomfortable with the unknown.

There was a saying that was shared with me a long time ago, and I shared it with those I spoke to, so I will share it with you too, “Panic is our worst enemy, nothing is ever as bad as it seems, all will be well.” This usually led to a dialogue where we could talk about replacing words like fear, worry and doubt of the unknown with the excitement of the unknown. Or thinking about disruption as disruption of the status quo and maybe changing things that needed change. And when it came to insecurity, the conversation shifted from what we are insecure about to what we can find security in.

What can we find security in when it feels like we are living in an insecure world? We can start with how we see ourselves, not how the situation or environment sees us. We then move on to our foundation, our faith and our belief system. We can focus on our attitude through the lens of what we can do, not what we can’t do. We take comfort and solace in our relationships and those we love. And we anchor everything in hope.

How about you? Are you ready for what happens next no matter what it is? Do you look forward to the mystery as it unfolds or are you looking for a predictable outcome? I really would love to hear your story at and when we understand that we can handle the twists and turns of this next mystery, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

Michael Norton


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