Preparation Puts You In the Driver’s Seat

I was a Boy Scout. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” Being prepared has served me well in my life and career. Many years ago, when I was stressing about a training program I designed and was going to run for the first time, my boss said to me, “Bud, preparation makes up for a lack of talent.” I took that advice to heart. I’m usually over-prepared.

I’m not a big soccer fan, but like many Americans, I watched the last three games of the tournament. If you watched, you know that Carli Lloyd was the big star in the final. She scored three goals in the win over Japan.

One of them was an amazing goal from mid-field. When I saw it, I thought, “That was lucky.” Only it turns out that luck had little to do with it. I read the lead story in Sports Illustrated right after the USA Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup. The story began with an anecdote about how Lloyd’s personal coach, James Galanis, had her practice taking shots from mid-field.

“That shot was always part of her arsenal,” Galanis said, “It was just a matter of picking the right moment to unleash it.” That moment came during the World Cup final. The Japanese goal tender was out of position so Lloyd took her shot. It went in. Amazing.

Simply Lucky?

It seemed like a lucky goal, but after reading the SI story, I realized it was preparation. In Carli Lloyd’s case, preparation didn’t make up for a lack of talent. It added to her prodigious talent.

But the rest of us can take a lesson here. Preparation is an important key to your success. It involves practice and repetition.

Doreen Welsh is a friend of mine from high school. She was one of the flight attendants who was on the plane that landed in the Hudson River in 2009. She told me that while the situation was frightening, she and the rest of the crew knew what to do in this type of emergency—they prepared for it in their training. The National Transportation Safety Board Principal Investigator, speaking of the crew said, “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, no lives were lost.”

If you’re reading this column, it’s unlikely that you will ever have the opportunity to play in a World Cup Final, or crew a commercial airliner. However, both stories illustrate the power of preparation.

Getting ready to do a presentation for the VP of Marketing? Prepare. Setting up a multichannel strategy for your brand? Prepare. Learn everything you can about multichannel marketing. Traveling with a rep? Prepare. Learn about the docs you’ll visit, their prescribing history and attitude about your brand.

The idea here is simple common sense. Successful people are prepared. This allows them to handle any situation they face. Spend time preparing and watch your career take off.

  • Bud Bilanich

    Bud Bilanich, The Common Sense Guy, is a success coach, motivational speaker, author and blogger. He is a faculty member at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver where he teaches courses in Organizational Dynamics and Human Capital Management. Bud has written five books on career and life success, which are the basis of his Common Sense Success System.

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