Tip #3: How to deal with the unexpected

By Younas Chaudhary

1. Have an open mind: Life throws unexpected things at us all the time. Despite being prudent and diligent, at some point in our lives, we will be hit by totally unexpected events. In my early days in the eighties, I worked with a group of wealthy investors in Kansas managing oil and gas operations with them. I owned a small share in the oil & gas wells while the rest was owned by them and they were quite happy as long as we were making money. However, we soon faced the unexpected as oil prices suddenly fell to $8 a barrel. Our operations took a big hit and my investors, who had stood by me just a few months ago, started blaming me for their losses. They did the unexpected and filed a lawsuit against me. However, I was ready to face the unexpected with grit and an open mind.  I negotiated a deal with their bankers who worked with me to protect their clients’ investment with me. I assured the bankers that I would pay off the loans provided I had the opportunity to buy the investors out which they happily agreed under those circumstances. After months of grueling hard work, the oil market rebounded. I paid off the bank loans, made a handsome profit and never looked back. Here, I learned to pause and kept an open mind while facing an unexpected turn of events. Our greatest enemy in these situations is fear and we often fall to its weakness. Make fear an ally, an uncomfortable necessity, and learn to control our actions as we move forward. Surely most of the time, success is waiting for us at the other end.

2. Expect divine interventions: I have seen many unexpected events happen to me in my personal and business life over the past few years. My wife, Bushra, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2014, a totally unexpected event that came with very few warning signs. Hurricane Harvey destroyed my dream home in Houston in 2017, and I lost a lot of money as there was no insurance coverage, along with loss of personal artifacts and precious memories. Oil prices crashed in April 2020 reaching to a negative $37.63 a barrel. Oil prices dropped way below zero for the first time in history. We are currently dealing with Covid-19 which is ongoing with lots of unknowns related to health issues, lower oil prices, and issues with tenants not able to pay rent at our real estate holdings. All were unexpected divine interventions, acts of God that at-least you and I cannot control.  

However, there is one thing we can control and that is our attitude in handling these calamities. While facing unexpected events, I have learned that the accumulation of material assets is fragile, and an act of God can end it all at any given time. Money can never buy you happiness and neither can it control an unexpected divine intervention. Although we should have a positive attitude when calamity strikes, we should be satisfied and contented under any circumstances.

3. Overcome fear and prepare for the rebound: Your inner fear will try to overcome you with negative thoughts when you are dealing with the unexpected. Sometimes, you won’t make rational decisions. I have been on a rollercoaster ride with my oil and gas business over the last 40 years and I have always feared falling oil prices. Every time fear tries to overpower me, I train my mind to think ahead with optimism. This is not easy and requires consistent practice and patience but that is sometimes the only good and right option you may have. As we live in these unexpected times, take stock of how your skills can prepare you for a rebound. Your patience, experience and instincts will guide you to move forward positively.

4. Understand, erase, move on: The oil business is more prone to unexpected events. I witnessed few years ago one of our deep high-pressure gas wells blew out unexpectedly. We could not control it for over two months and that caused extensive damages and we lost millions. Any business has its rewards and risks. We need to think long term. There is no “quick profitability.” When the unexpected happens, I think the best solution is to understand what happened, fix it, erase it from your mind and move on.

5. Sometimes, the unexpected can bring miracles! In 1983, I was scrambling to raise money to close an oil deal with a big energy company. I even placed an advertisement in the local newspaper seeking investors, but I could not raise the money and the deadline was coming closer. One day I suddenly got an unexpected phone call from a gentleman who wanted to invest in that oil deal with me. Shortly afterwards, an older gentleman, who had very less experience in the oil and gas business met me at my office in Kansas and gave me a cashier’s check to go ahead to close the deal. This was totally unexpected! I could only thank God profusely for this miracle! Interestingly, once the deal was closed, a few months thereafter, I started returning his money to his address but none of them were cashed. Sometimes the unexpected can bring miracles to us as well!

So, as you get ready to deal with the unexpected, remember to have an open mind, work on your fears and always be ready with patience to understand, erase and move on!

Meanwhile, stay tuned to Tip #4: Change is a constant.

Find out more about me in my best -selling book “From dirt roads to black gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.


The views, thoughts and opinions  expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been , am now or will be affiliated.

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