Reading List: Surprise

UPDATED: October 7, 2015
PUBLISHED: April 25, 2015

It will come as no surprise that most of us really don’t like surprises. Given a choice, we tend to choose stability and predictability over the uncertainty that surprise implies. When the expected thing happens, we know how to respond and to feel comfortable, explain self-described “surprisologists” Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger in Surprise.

In contrast, when “things go off script,” and especially when “bad surprises attack,” we feel unprepared and vulnerable, say Luna, co-founder and CEO of Surprise Industries, and Renninger, co-founder and CEO of LifeLabs New York, a company that helps people improve and master everyday life skills. The authors stress that learning to embrace the unexpected helps us build resilience—our internal safety net that allows us to bounce back from negative surprises, increases our ability to innovate and improves our chances for connecting with others.

Luna and Renninger also suggest employing these resilience-building tools:

• Set stable ground: Establish calming rituals and routines.
• Reframe: Find the silver lining in a negative situation.
• Pivot: Use a negative surprise as an opportunity to go in a new, positive direction.

The ability to adapt to surprises—good and bad—is important, the authors say, because we live in a time of tremendous change when the unexpected happens every day.

by Tania Luna and LeeAnn Renninger, Ph.D.
April; Perigee; $26.95