A lot of people hope for success, similar to how one hopes for nice weather for an upcoming vacation. Their “hope” is just that — a passive endeavor that leads them to whatever outcome randomly occurs. Successful people, on the other hand, play an active role with respect to their future, and their game plan always includes a positive attitude and high level of readiness and preparation. In fact, the old saying about luck is when “preparation meets opportunity,” and adopting this mindset often results in experiencing significantly more success stories over the course of a lifetime.
When thinking about what it means to be prepared, it is important to take a broad view and include all the ingredients to success. Obviously time management is important, but simply being on time doesn’t necessarily mean you are prepared. For example, a student athlete might arrive early for a practice, but have forgotten to bring an important piece of equipment, continue to check her phone while the coach is talking, and carry a negative mindset rather than a positive one. The point is that preparation includes attitude, focus, readiness, and the commitment to execute at a high level when needed.
Additional questions to ask yourself when gauging your level of preparation:
- How well do you pay attention to directions and details? Often success hinges on simply knowing what is being asked of you, and not overlooking important details.
- How is your self-discipline? Are you able to sustain focus, even when there are distractions and/or other more interesting things to do?
- Are you in the right “head space?” Being able devote all your focus on the task at hand while leaving distractions behind is an important skill and allows for peak productivity.
- Is your attitude positive and productive? Let go of fear and self-doubt and instead believe in your talents and abilities. Attitude is a choice, so choose wisely.
- Do you know your role on the team and related expectations? If you are unclear of your role, can you ask the coach for more clarity? And regarding your role, are you accepting of the duties that are expected?
- Do you make your positive energy contagious to others around you? The world is a mirror, and people reciprocate by projecting the same attitude to you as you do to them. Lifting the spirits of others not only allows you to feel the same in return, but also improves the overall attitude of the team.
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail…
Often in life your level of success is directly related to your level of preparation, and the good news is preparation is something everyone can do. While we all have biological challenges, hurdles, and limitations, when it comes to being ready to go it’s a proposition we can all do well if we commit to the task. The saying failing to prepare is preparing to fail is an accurate one from my experience, as I have worked with countless talented people who have come up short not because of their lacking talent, but because they failed to properly prepare their attitude, focus, and attention to detail. These stories are unfortunate, as the only thing that held these individuals back was their own lacking preparation, not the competition.
Get in the routine of preparing your days, and soon you will see firsthand the returns on your investment. Often it’s the little things in life that make all the difference, and preparation will become a little thing the more you do it and it becomes part of your routine. If you are a parent, teacher, or coach, take time to help the kids you lead and influence understand that simply being on time is just the start to preparation, and that being fully ready to go includes attitude, focus, and commitment.