We’ve heard it said many times that the scouts motto is “always be prepared.” While the word “always” has been added by pop culture, the idea of being prepared is a good one.
A few weeks ago I showed up to the office and was immediately pulled aside and asked if I could go speak to a group meeting on the premises. The scheduled speaker couldn’t make it that day. The meeting had already started and they needed someone to come in to share a message with them. The message needed to be inspiring and hope-filled as well as Bible-based since this was a church group that was meeting. As I walked from our office building to the building they were meeting in, I thought through a couple of things I could share with them. 10 minutes later, I was in front of this group giving them a message.
The only reason I could do that is because I have spent the bulk of my adult life speaking to people and have the preparation of study and experience to lean on.
Athletes and coaches know the importance of muscle memory. The reason a tennis player can return a 100 mph serve or a baseball player can hit a 95 mph fastball is they have spent countless hours building the muscle memory to make that hit without having to spend time thinking it through in the moment. The professional athlete knows she can’t wait until the middle of the game to be worried about preparation or what she needs to do now. Pro athletes are where they are, only because they have spent their lifetime to date getting ready.
Most of us understand the importance of practice and getting ready for things. Yet, too often we struggle with actually taking the time to practice and prepare. Practice and preparation is hard work.
Not enough of us are intentional with what we are working on in our leadership skills. It is too easy to just fall back on what we already know or just wing-it off talent and charm. Just like the professional athlete, we have to keep working on our skills so we can always be as ready as possible for whatever happens.
We also know that we can accurately anticipate everything that might happen. There are too many variables. We can’t practice every scenario. However, the more we develop our skillset the better we are prepared for those unpredictable things.
How can you always be ready? Constantly learn and grow in your skills and abilities.
That is part one. Honestly, it is the more simple of the two parts to always be ready. It is hardwork to intentionally improve and grow, but it is basically simple and straightforward. There are measurable and tangible steps to do.
The truly difficult thing is part two… Have a ready attitude.
It’s one thing to be technically ready for something. It is another thing entirely to be mentally and emotionally ready with a good attitude.
When I showed up to that group to share a message with them, I had to choose whether to show up ready and excited for the opportunity or grumbling and put out that my day changed on a dime and I had to do something I wasn’t expecting. I could also have chosen to be upset at the one who was supposed to be there speaking.
So often, when that unexpected thing comes up, it throws us off our game. Too many people panic, get upset, or simply shut down. I can’t source the study behind this, but I recently heard a well known speaker at a conference give an interesting statistic. He stated that in a crisis 80% of people stand around waiting for someone to take and/or direct action; 10% of people panic and take the wrong action making it worse; and 10% step up and take action toward resolution.
The only difference between those who are not derailed by the unexpected and those who are is attitude. In the organization I am involved in, we like to say that problems are really just opportunities to make a difference. That is an attitude choice. And, attitude is a choice. Always.
As is very often stated that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond.
A ready attitude is one that is open to change. It’s the choice to respond to life instead of react to it.
Always ready is a mindset that works to be as prepared as we can with our knowledge and skills at the same time choosing to live flexible with an open attitude.
Here’s a three things that will help us have a ready attitude:
- Choosing to trust what we have prepared in our lives and lean into it. Of course, the more intentional we have been and harder we have worked to prepare ourselves the easier it is to lean into that.
- Accepting that life is unpredictable and finding the joy and excitement in each new experience.
- Choosing to see change as opportunity. Every unexpected situation, every change is an opportunity to do something different and make a new impact.
Wake up each day and make the conscious decision to have a ready attitude. This is definitely not a one-and-done decision. It is one we have to continually make over and over and over again.
To live always ready requires us to be in intentional in our own personal and professional development AND for us to choose to live with an open and ready attitude.