As we prepare for the arrival of a new year, it is an opportune time to consider the importance of preparation in our business and personal lives. I will limit my comments here to the business context but I hope the parallels with preparation in our personal lives is not that difficult to see.
While most would acknowledge the importance of preparation, far too many put more effort into preparation for celebrating the arrival of the new year than the effort they put into preparing for success in that year.
Most want to win/succeed but far fewer are prepared to prepare for success assuming instead that working hard and fighting fires as they appear will ensure the desired result. As Vince Lombardi expressed it: “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.”
Start by making a list of all the situations you may face, assign probabilities of occurrence and then rank your list so you start work on the most likely situations first. Make sure you include positive as well as negative situations. Hopefully gaining a new large customer is more likely that losing a large customer but you need to prepare for both.
Being prepared allows you to make a considered response instead of merely reacting (fighting fires).
Murphy’s Law will ensure that you cannot anticipate (and prepare for) all possible situations. This may suggest that the unexpected will still derail your careful preparation. The fact is that, while you may not be prepared for the precise situation you eventually face, elements of the unexpected occurrence will be similar to those already under control. Minor adaptation is a simpler process than deciding how to deal with a situation you are totally unprepared for.
Unfortunately, any preparation is not a “set and forget” process. Regular review of your preparedness will be necessary to test the appropriateness of your planned responses in the light of changed circumstances and your current level of understanding.
Of course, it is not sufficient for you to be the only one prepared. Ensuring your team are prepared for their various roles is also critical. Periodical practice runs to test preparedness for particular situations will identify team members who have “forgotten” their parts in the grand scheme.
So, as you dive back into your business for another year to work hard and fight fires, remember that success will be more certain and more easily achieved if you invest in the necessary preparation. Identifying the possible situations your business may face and preparing to overcome or take advantage of these will help you stay in control and achieve a higher level of success.
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