Preparation is the key to success. My kids heard me share this many times at the dinner table growing up. I think I heard this statement at a leadership conference early in my career and it just stuck. I remember how it made me feel… when I was prepared and when I wasn’t. Preparation is a skill that can be learned and mastered and will help us move our careers forward like nothing else. It is what I call a “momentum maker”! You see, the higher we climb in our career, or the more responsibility we take on, and the more prepared we will need to be to have success. It is expected! Do you remember walking into class back in high school or college when you hadn’t prepared for the assignment or worse… a pop quiz or exam? YIKES!! I know I do… it was filled with negative emotions, a lack of confidence, a lack of belief, and lots of anxiety.
Earlier in my career, I wasn’t prepared… One day, I looked at my calendar and got sick at my stomach. I realized that I had just missed a survey appointment to help a customer with his upcoming move. I was trying to figure out how this happened. I then wondered why the customer didn’t call to ask about the surveyor and find out why I didn’t show up. It was embarrassing and felt awful. I then thought, should I just not worry about contacting him and move on? I couldn’t do that. I committed to helping and needed to just call and apologize.
So, I called and let the customer know how sorry I was to miss the appointment and that I really didn’t have any excuse other than I missed it. I knew he would be upset and just let me know he would use someone else since he couldn’t depend on me. But I would feel better just making the call. I also mentioned that if he was willing, I would like to have another chance because I knew we could provide a great move experience.
I was surprised when the customer told me that he would give me a second chance. He then went on to tell me the surveyor from the competition didn’t show up either. What are the odds of that? I couldn’t believe it. I went from being embarrassed to feeling relieved knowing that I owned my mistake and was given another opportunity.
Preparation is a discipline and gives us confidence, which leads to action, which leads to momentum, and ultimately leads to success. The more prepared, the more success. However, in order to make preparation part of our everyday, we need to create a “system” … in other words, we need to try to automate our daily disciplines or habits that remind us to do little things every day, every week, and every year so we don’t have to think about what we need to do every day. It’s the little things that ultimately lead us to the big things.
As the host for “Life in the Leadership Lane” podcast, I ask high performers to share a daily practice that helps keep them on track. I have learned they all have a common thread… and that common thread is a system. some call it a routine; I call it a system. They don’t necessarily do the same things, but they all do things the same in a systematic way from waking up early to quiet time, to reading to time blocking, etc.… it’s their everyday!
Here are a few ways we can better prepare and automate a system to help build our confidence for the next opportunity ahead.
- Create a weekend reflection time… This should take about 20-30 minutes. Start looking back at the previous week and write down the things that went well and that didn’t. Look for the good and you’ll see the good. It’s energizing!
- Plan your calendar for the upcoming week. This should take 15-30 minutes. Block time for everything and be okay to flex when needed. Calls, meetings, connecting, preparing for a presentation, everything. It will help you discern different choices to make when they come up during the week!
- Create “Friday Finishers”. This should take 10-15 minutes. I got this idea in my growth day class. These are writing down your most important weekly goals that you must get done no matter what. Write them down on Saturday or Sunday and finish by Friday EOB! It keeps our eyes on our most important projects!
Tom Brady, Quarterback for the Tampa Buccaneers recently won his 7th Super Bowl at the age of 43. I was reading about his preparation… he’s the oldest player in the NFL and continues to play at a high level because of his preparation… He starts early every morning with study, practices every day, and is selective on food that he eats… no sugar or flour, etc…. we don’t ever see the daily struggles, only the touchdown passes! It’s all in his preparation and systems that provide him the support for continued success… It’s not easy, but it’s easier with a system in place!
What is something you do each week to prepare? Do you have an everyday routine or system? How do you stay on track? Share below… I would enjoy learning from you too!
Quote of the Day: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” John Wooden
Call to Action: Apply one of the examples above… What can you add this week to help you stay on track? What can you stop doing, or continue? Share with a friend and build a system to win!
This has been A Relocation Minute on “preparation” with Bruce Waller, for more information, call