Managers everywhere looking for advice on preparation can take a page from John Wooden, the great college basketball coach who won 88 games in a row including 11 national college championships (7 in a row), and once said:
[shareable cite=”John Wooden”]Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.[/shareable]
In my Army days we had the “7 P’s” – Proper prior planning prevents pitiful poor performance (I cleaned this up for a larger audience).
Yet I am routinely amazed at how many fairly accomplished business managers and entrepreneurs fail to prepare every day. First, let’s take a look at the entrepreneur.
Anyone who has started a business usually goes through a bit of a planning process. You decide what you are doing, what you need to run the business, where you will work, etc. I’ve seen the list get pretty large. Then you go about executing those things to get ready for opening day or the first product to sell.
However, as time goes on, planning becomes secondary to just getting through the moment. You struggle to deal with the challenges of finding new business, handling customers or clients, and making decisions. Eventually, you fall into a very reactionary mode of operation. It feels like you are playing a giant game of Whack-a-Mole™ . As things pop up, you lunge to pound them back into control and wait for the next thing to pop up. It’s not a very rewarding way to operate.
Managers in larger companies face the same basic problem. Regardless of the size of the team you run, there are regular opportunities to prepare. Yet many times when I begin coaching a manager they tell me how frustrated they feel by the flood of things happening. They admit that preparation went away a long time ago.
It’s funny that when a young manager gets an invitation to present to the president of the company, there will be mountains of preparation. That seems obvious, right? Yet when you have to meet with your team, you sometimes feel an urge to just ‘wing it’.
Preparation does not have to be a huge burden, but it is work and effort. It should become part of a regular practice; a habit. There are frameworks that are found time and time again with businesses and leaders who are known for their successes.
Here is one such framework to consider which involves six important areas:
- Essential information (e.g., goals, plans, strategies) ;
- Task-specific knowledge and skills (e.g., R&D, finance, sales);
- Crucial resources and tools (e.g., experts, computer programs, data systems);
- Psychological and emotional capabilities (e.g., determination, confidence, resilience);
- Interpersonal skills (e.g., leadership, empathy, assertiveness, communication, inspiration, decisiveness);
- Physical health (e.g., illness free, rested, well nourished, fit).
Additionally, three essential qualities necessary for business preparation and success are:
Preparation takes time and you will experience many bumps along the road to your best success. Patience ensures that you realize that there are no shortcuts or easy roads to success. Persistence will get you to keep grinding away when you are tired, stressed, and bored. Perseverance will enable you to stay motivated and positive in the face of the inevitable obstacles and setbacks you will experience.
[shareable]Remember, the purpose of preparation is to develop effective skills and habits. [/shareable]
When you have identified those six key areas from the framework, you have a road map showing you what you need to do to achieve your goals. Education, training, experience, and teamwork that helps you fully develop all of those areas will ensure your complete preparation. These experiences will ingrain in you the essential skills you can then access when you arrive at Prime Time.
Footnote: Excerpts from Psychology Today, Dr. Jim Taylor, Ph.D. September 2010