A few years ago I needed to hire an assistant. I’d fixed an interview, and everything was organised. It was five minutes before the time the candidate was due, and I was just collecting my papers and my thoughts. At that moment, the din of the fire alarm started up.

There is – of course – nothing that you can do. Down the concrete back stairs, and out round the back of the building to the assembly point, into the London drizzle without a coat, while I imagined my interviewee arriving at the front. I had left all my papers on my desk in the dry, and had no other record of his contact details, so I had no way to suggest an alternative plan.

A little while later, my mobile rang. Having arrived and been barred from entry, he had managed to track down my mobile number himself, and we were able to arrange to carry on with the interview while we dried out in a local coffee shop. Needless to say, his resourcefulness impressed me and he got the job. Despite the unhelpful circumstances of the interview, he was one of my best hires ever.

Life has a habit of not going the way we plan it. Unexpected circumstances can often be turned to our advantage though, if we grasp them rather than trying to stick to the plan, and often the results are better than you could possibly have expected.

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