Always Be Prepared
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation.” Bobby Knight
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” Stephen Keague
“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
“It’s not the will to win that matter – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Paul Bear Bryant
“Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.” Amelia Earhart
“Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst case scenario. I call it ‘the eaten by wolves factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.”― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
“First, I prepare. Then I have faith.” Joe Namath
“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.” ― Alan Armstrong
“Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” Richard Kline
“Preparation for life is so important. Are you prepared?” Earl Nightingale
“The smaller the role innate talents seems to play and the bigger the role of preparation seems to play.” Malcolm Gladwell
“The best preparation for tomorrow is the right use of today.” Darry D
Picking up on last month’s theme on milestones and checklists this month I will touch on the importance of advance preparation. The ones that excel in any field don’t rely on luck they prepare for success.
This is a true and constant principle in life. Those who do well in any area have prepared adequately and are ready when the opportunity or disaster presents itself. They attach reverence and total focus on getting the important stuff done first.
There are literally few surprises in life, we are rarely disappointed when we fail because deep down we know we never put in the effort. We know when we have slacked off and failed to attend to the important matters.
Usually when disaster strikes it is devastating. Those that planned for the event usually sail though unscathed, while those that had little or no preparation, suffer immensely or perish. That’s the importance of preparation in our lives.
The Importance of Preparation- Examples
Adverse Weather Events – Hurricanes, Tornados, Winter, Earthquakes, Drought
Disease is one of those calamities that can strike at any time. It’s important to have those regular annual health checks. I have an uncle who went through a cancer scare and fortunately pulled through the ordeal recently.
What saved him was that he detected the cancer early enough, in the stage one growth phase. The inverse happened for one of my wife’s uncles. He detected his cancer growth late, it was at Stage 3 growth and despite all efforts to save him he passed away.
A stitch in time truly saves nine. Carrying out those health screening checks early is very important. You can arrest and contain dangerous situations fast enough.
Adverse Weather Events – Hurricanes, Tornados, Winter, Earthquakes, Drought
I am fortunate enough to live in the Tropics where there are few weather-related events. Apart from minor earthquakes and the occasional drought East Africa is spared the weather calamities that usually strike other parts of the world
Part of the Caribbean Sea Board and the Eastern Coast of the United States have to face severe and deadly hurricanes every year. The Russians and Canadians have to face severe winter weather every year. Japan has to face a deadly earthquake or so every 10 years.
The list is lengthy but if you study those areas that are affected constantly by adverse weather conditions, their level of advance preparation is usually higher than those who rarely face such calamities. The building codes and enforcement of structural integrity checks for buildings in these areas is strictly enforced.
Early warning systems, preparation drills and other emergency services drills are constantly practiced and fine tuned for the population. The communities understand that fast and quick reactions save multiple lives when disaster strikes.
If there are human beings that understand the importance of planning and preparation that should be soldiers. Their lives literally depend on been prepared 24/7. Any military branch or wing in any country in the world has to plan for any scenario and have contingency plans in place.
The study of war and victors is usually the study of the army that prepared for that war. Luck rarely plays a factor in military victory. Those that are best organized and well led usually take the day. The importance of logistics and planning in the military is critical.
Conducting war and seeing it through to its logical conclusion is not a task for the faint hearted. From reconnaissance to actual combat activities you cannot leave it to luck. The best prepared armies usually win the day.
Special Forces and and army training is focused on surviving and overcoming the odds in multiple scenarios that face the soldier. A study of war is the study of strategy and planning in play.
Sepsis and Infections
Back to the medical field. The most dangerous infection any human being can face is sepsis. This is the infection of the blood stream. The odds of survival reduce significantly once any individual gets Sepsis.
Ignoring minor wounds and not treating them early enough is dangerous. They can easily turn gangrenous and you can lose an entire limb just by ignoring that small wound.
Attacking problems in their infancy is the best way to deal with them in the first place. Getting rid of weeds and constantly pruning your plants is the best way to have a healthy and vital garden. The same analogy applies to children.
The adage ‘spare the rod spoil the child’ still holds true to this day. You can witness the effects of absentee parenting in this modern age. Drug and Alcohol addiction is out of control in numerous countries.
Behavioral problems are best managed when we are young or when they start taking root in our lives. I have personally witnessed the devastating effects of drug and alcohol addiction close hand. Lives have been lost and careers ruined due to this phenomenon.
Applying the necessary discipline to children early enough is crucial. Leading by example and mentoring young children is also crucial in their overall development. As the saying also goes ‘Monkey sees Monkey Do’ We should also strive to lead exemplary lives to teach our children.
Preventive maintenance is where we carry out periodic maintenance of our assets whether or not they have broken down. This can be carried out at a personal level or community level.
Mechanical devices and infrastructure such as cars, lifts, aeroplanes, trains, bridges, travelators, bicycles, generators, air conditioners, turbines and any item that faces constant wear and tear, has to have periodic maintenance. This almost guarantees a good mechanical or working condition of the device.
The importance of this activity cannot be understated. Many lives have been lost to accidents caused by lack of detection and repair of mechanical faults early enough. Brake failures in cars, motor cycles are very devastating. They usually result in terrible accidents that result in loss of lives.
Watching the ‘National Geographic Aircraft Disaster Investigation’ series reveals the problem of late detection of issues early enough in aeroplanes. A single engine crack or loose bolt can cause massive problems to an entire plane. Many airplane crashes that resulted in loss of lives have been caused by poor maintenance regimes.
Collapsed bridges, poor roads, collapsed buildings and other issues are mostly caused by lack of any maintenance regime. This is why we always need to be one step ahead of the game.
The same analogy about adequate preparation also applies to farming. To ensure you get the best yield out of your crops or animals, one has to plan in advance their entire farming activity cycle beforehand.
Land preparation, arranging water reservoirs and irrigation, consulting an agronomist, vet and other specialists. Marketing and other activities have to be planned in advance to realize the best results out of the venture.
Minimize surprises through out the entire cycle and ensure you are well prepared to deal with emergencies that come your way.
The Sports Champions we see in real life usually train harder than the rest. They put more sweat and effort in training than the rest do.
The great basketball stars Michael Jordan and the late Kobe Bryant had a punishing training regime. Kobe Bryant was in the gym by 4 am each day working out hours before the rest of his team mates came to practice.
He already possessed natural talent but knew that ultimately, the sportsmen and women that win at the end of the day are those that put in the effort during the training sessions.
The same principle rings true in athletics I have borne personal witness to the training regimes of the famous Kenyan long-distance track athletes in Eldoret, Kenya. They are already up by 4 am going for the punishing 4 am practice runs.
They repeat the training cycles day in day out without fail. The great Australian swimmer Phelps was naturally talented but also had a punishing training regime. He was in the swimming pool for not less than 6 hours per day 7 days a week without fail.
Some of the greatest footballers/soccer players like Ronaldo are known for their strict training regimes. He has a work and training ethic that supersedes the rest of the team. He puts in the hours and the results were a brilliant career that has spun over 20 years.
Mountain climbing is one area where prior preparation truly matters. One of the highest mountain peaks in the world are the K2 ranges. These ranges are found in the border area of Pakistan and China. Many individuals have perished trying to scale these mountain peaks.
Taking the wrong decisions has cost lives. Inadequate preparation is the key cause of such sad events. Doing background preparation and research cannot be understated. Knowing what to do when you reach certain stages in your climb is as important as having your physical preparation carried out beforehand.
Scenario planning and reaction is very important in Mountain climbing. Those who plan well are the ones who live to tell the tale at the end of the day. It is very exhilarating reaching the top of the mountain peaks but also getting back down is a challenge that few prepare for.
Every activity phase matters and we need to ensure we have planned adequately and prepared for each phase.
Importance of Prior Preparation
The list can go on and on but those who prepare early enough and do the hard stuff early enough are the ones who win at the end of the day. You can use preparation in any activity you undertake and the results will truly speak for themselves literally.
What the leading practitioners and the best do.
Strategic Planning and Risk Management
Any individual or business that matters carries out strategic planning and risk management planning annually. This is carried out as a mandatory exercise. The importance of this exercise cannot be understated.
Each individual, business, community, government has to assess the risks they face one month down the line to five (5) years down the line. They have to ask themselves what measures they can take to mitigate these risks.
Scenario analysis where best case and worst-case scenarios are analyzed, with corresponding mitigating measures drafted, are critical to the survival of any individual, business or community.
Risks can be broken down to key elements depending on the entity involved:
On an individual basis – Spiritual/Moral, Financial/Economic, Health, Relationships
On a Corporate Basis- Regulatory, Financial/Economic, Ethical, Competitive, People, Technology/Processes
Community/Government – Physical Security, Economic/Financial, Health, Education, Infrastructure Upgrades, Food security
Individuals, Corporations and Governments that have honest and candid assessments about their risks usually come out ahead in the long run. They are literally placing their priorities in order and setting up themselves for success in the long run.
Taking out Insurance
The importance of Insurance is critical in our lives. I had a freak accident last year that resulted in a broken knee. The surgery and overall hospital costs were approximately 3000 USD which is literally a fortune in Africa and can cause economic devastation in many families.
Insurance is not an item to be taken lightly. If you have the means to insure your health and key assets please do so. Disaster can strike at any time and Insurance helps us get over those trying moments and time.
‘Always be Prepared’ The Scouts Motto. None of us can ever have enough preparation in life. When you think you have prepared adequately you realize it was inadequate.
Keep it in the back of your mind that you can only narrow down the probability and odds of failure. Success should never be taken for granted, you should always prepare before hand for any major activity that you undertake.
The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life – Avinash K. Dixit & Barry J. Nalebuff
The 33 Strategies of War – Robert Greene
The Art of War – Sun Tzu