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Preparation Precedes Success

February 2, 2021

All of us have goals, desires, and dreams. 

We may not call them these names, but we each have something we are aiming for—for our businesses, our families, and ourselves. You might be working to roll out a new strategic plan at work. Maybe you’re just trying to eat healthier and lose some weight. Perhaps you have a focused financial goal and are working hard to get out of debt. Or maybe you just want to get your toddler potty-trained!

From the biggest goals down to just the things we want, preparation is crucial to success. If we are truly serious about achieving something, we need to be as serious—if not more serious—about how we prepare for it.

Abraham Lincoln famously said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six hours sharpening my axe.” In other words, if what we are trying to achieve is important, our preparation is equally important. It may even take more time to prepare for the work required to achieve our goals than the time it takes to actually get it done.

American businessman and New York Times best-selling author Harvey McKay takes it one step further:

I subscribe to the wisdom of the oft-quoted sports maxim [Vince Lambardi], “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” Many people have the will to win, but they aren’t willing to put in the hard work and time required to become great at something. What makes this even more challenging is that preparation is not a one-time thing. You can’t prepare to win once and then just let success flow. Great performers possess the will to prepare to win over and over again.

For those of us who are not naturally prone to prepare (hand raised here!), McKay’s words are especially challenging. Preparation is hard work, and it’s required to achieve something great. But it can’t just be a one-time thing. On-going success is tied to on-going preparation. If we want to be people who achieve our goals, we have to be people who are always preparing.

On-going success is tied to on-going preparation.

Before the final session of our ADDO team retreat last month, I sat down with Elizabeth, our chief of staff, and we asked three questions for the rest of our team. After they leave this retreat, what do we want them to know? How do we want them to feel? And what do we want them to do? 

We decided to write down these goals, and they looked something like this:

KNOW: We want our to be confident of ADDO’s future, of our financial position, and aware of all of the projects and initiatives underway.
FEEL: We want them to feel inspired, challenged, and refreshed.
DO: We want them to be motivated to personally develop in order to help our organization grow.

We prepared in advance what, and how, we would communicate with our team, with the hope that they would work to prepare themselves for ADDO’s future.

So what is your goal, aim, or dream? Are you preparing yourself for it? 

Take some time this week to evaluate how you can strategically prepare to achieve your personal and professional goals.


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