The Beauty of Being Prepared

It’s Friday afternoon, the end of a long and productive week. I feel good, a bit drained and reflective. Yesterday saw the culmination of a few weeks of focused work preparing a client for an employee offsite. The offsite – a first of its kind for this company – was designed to educate, engage and prepare employees for a new, challenging phase of growth. It was one of those events that could have gone either way; excitement for the future or intense preoccupation with what is not perfect. It broke positive, leaving leadership and employees expectant, committed and forward-looking.

I bring this up as an example of the beauty of being prepared. Leading up to the offsite, the planning team worked with leadership to answer a few key questions:

  • Why are we having an offsite?
  • What must we accomplish by the time its over?
  • What role must leaders play?
  • What role do we want employees to play?
  • How do we want employees to feel throughout the day?
  • Are we committed to consistent follow through post-meeting?

The answers to these questions were not assumed, they were asked directly. Their results were used to inform the agenda, activities, presentations and the like. Even the kind of space needed was driven, in part, by this query. Unspoken assumptions and directions typically, in my experience, muck things up. And on many occasions the desire to do “something” overshadows what the “doing” is meant to achieve. Overlooking the art of careful preparation, from conception through execution, can make things break negative.

The additional beauty of being prepared is that it frees one up to be nimble, to flex if need be and to respond to the unforeseen. What happens if presenters go past their allotted time? Or group discussions veer off into tangents? How do you respond to failures in meeting technologies like projectors, audio patches or microphones? Things happen. If you spend your time getting clarity on the core elements of the endeavor up to the last minute, you leave no space to handle surprises. And unfortunately, surprises occur with clock-like regularity.

A simple Google search on “advantages of being prepared” yields pages of articles on the benefit of preparedness in personal matters, business negotiations, natural disasters, finances, academics, even death. The value of being prepared is universal. And while I agree that you can’t plan your life entirely, nor should you strive to factor out surprise, preparing yourself for what you want to achieve is more than merely smart. It adds substance to your goals and dreams.

Sometimes being prepared is nothing more than being prepared for what may come. In other words, being open to what you cannot yet see or understand. Thoughtful preparation roots you in knowing what you want while remaining free enough to let it unfold with great precision. Inhabiting that position of knowing and openness is a beautiful place to be.

And so this long, productive week comes to its end as I hoped it would, or more accurately, it ends as I had planned.

 

 

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