A long-time teacher of mine, Tom Cross, introduced me to the idea of the 101st scenario. A 101st scenario is the unexpected outcome, the one that is completely different from the 100 ideas you had about how a circumstance would play out. The 101st scenario is the solution that lives outside the box of what’s known – the one that answered my prayers precisely in ways I never anticipated.
My experiences with 101st scenarios have taught me about trust. Through them, I’ve learned to be excited by the unknown, rather than only fearful. I have learned that there is always a bigger organizing force at work than my limited thinking. I experienced a 101st scenario last week, when I unexpectedly stayed home instead of traveling to an annual event I have been present at for all but 1 of the last 20 years! I was planning to go until 2 hours before I left. Prior to that, I had considered not going, but I couldn’t see clearly how to change the plan because of both internal and external expectations. In the end, I didn’t decide, my husband did, listening to a voice I couldn’t hear mention a possibility I hadn’t thought of – that he would go with our daughter and I would stay home. My husband and daughter left without me, and I stayed put without my family – for a rare, precious, sometimes lonely, and full of growth few days.
One reason the decision to stay home was so powerful was that I hadn’t let myself consider it. That’s how it often is with 101st scenarios; you can’t see their possibility because to go in their direction is to go outside your comfort zone. Sometimes the 101st scenario doesn’t feel like growth. In fact, it can feel like the opposite. When the unexpected arrives at our doorstep it often grabs our hands and yanks us unwittingly into new realities. Ready or not, we find ourselves where we didn’t expect to be. Sometimes the felt sense of its perfection is readily apparent, and other times only becomes clear months or years later, once other things have occurred that could not have happened without the initial unexpected shift in direction brought on by the 101st scenario.
Life regularly takes us to the boundaries of our comfort and asks us to choose whether to live within them or step outside. Resilience grows in the back and forth dance from inside our comfort zone to just beyond the boundaries of it – a territory Ray Castellino, another long-time teacher of mine, calls the Leading Edge. Standing on the edge of comfort does lead us into new territory and always catapults into growth.
Over 4 years ago, the possibility of purchasing the School of Inner Health was a 101st scenario; a possibility I had considered and said no to years before but couldn’t see the rightness of until a particular pique-filled resounding yes welled up inside me. Owning the School of Inner Health has created 10,001 scenarios both fabulous and challenging, and it has forced me to live much more often outside my comfort zone than within it. The opportunity to own the School of Inner Health has grown me more than any other I’ve had except one — becoming a mother.
Getting pregnant was unexpected in my life as well. I was over 40 and in the midst of a divorce when I fell in love with Chris. I was sure children were not in my cards, but then I got dealt a jackpot hand, one whose bounty is endless. Becoming a mother continues to heal my deepest wounds in ways that nothing else even comes close to.
Whatever challenges you have in your life right now, may you be gifted with a 101st scenario and have the courage to follow it! May it lead you to places of discovery and growth inside yourself and your world and change how you understand your life and your presence within it.