My father taught me “to expect the best and to prepare for the unexpected.” My father was a railroad man for the Seaboard Airline Railroad, now CRX, for 33 years. He spent years as a switchman until he decided he wanted more for his life and career. He got ahold of the Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He was so inspired that he enrolled in the Dale Carnegie Course. He found a way to impress his bosses by drawing a detailed map of all the unmarked rail spurs that went behind warehouses and manufacturing plants throughout the Miami-Dade County area. He was soon promoted to Assistant Yard Master. He joined the Toastmasters International organization, not to give speeches but to gain self-confidence when talking with people. He became Yard Master. Then in 1965, the unexpected happened.
This all came to mind when I came across a quote from Dale Carnegie this week, “First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” That seemed a little grim to me. I liked my father’s admonition better. Expect the best in people, opportunities, and circumstances first and foremost. Likewise, be prepared for the unexpected—the unpleasant surprise, the disappointing result, or the unimaginable experience. In 1965 my father received a call from the railroad company’s office in Birmingham, Alabama. He was offered a new position with the railroad to negotiate contracts with new companies needing to ship their goods. One requirement the company had of him was to learn to play golf. One requirement he had of the railroad was for him to keep his seniority if things did not work out. After four years, he decided to give up golf and go back to the railroad yards. He became General Yard Master over the Atlanta yards, eventually becoming a Terminal Train Master overseeing South Carolina.
There is a difference in our starting points—best or worst. We are a people of hope. We expect to see the best of life now and in the future. Others are a people of worst-case scenarios. They expect the worst outcome and plan accordingly, hoping against hope that something better happens. I prefer Paul’s prayer for us in Romans 15:13.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Expect the best. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.