Preparation and being prepared is more of an ART, than it is the mere mastering of skills and gaining abilities.
Preparations are less about technical and physical training - in the end - than it is about mental and psyche preparation. For instance… Boxing is more of a chess game, than a mere exchange of successive and rapid blows in an attempt to claim victory. A truly successful boxer has to be skilled enough and must have trained or practice enough to know and understand the many different ways he can counter act an attack at any given moment and in any situation.
All professional people always suitably prepare themselves. The more prepared we are, the better our chances to achieve success. However, the less prepared we are, the greater the risk of failure. A dentists reviews a patient chart, before pulling out the picks and drills. Lawyers get briefs together, before entering any courtroom. Physicians ask plenty of questions to better understand a patient's health history, before reeling him/her of to the operating room. Contractors study project plans and drawings, before renting equipment and order materials. Plumber determine the extent of the problem, before doing any repairs. Can you imagine that any of these professionals going about their daily routines and tasks without being prepared? You would probably never go back, or make use of their serves again.
The same principle of preparation goes for when you have to decide on a personal lifestyle and career path, build a sicial and professional network, execute a job search strategy and/or excel both professionally and in a personal capacity. Before you even walk into an interview room or speak to a prospective employer, ask yourself the following question: 'Would I be impressed by my preparedness?'. All too often, we tend to embark on a professional career path, without having done the necessary preparations. Which is as equally true and valid for decisions regarding personal growth and lifestyle choices.
…prepare, prepare, prepare and prepare yourself, because preparedness is the KEY for achieving and obtaining your objectives and goals while simultaneously curb, limit and even avoid negative outcomes altogether. In essence, being prepared can be regarded as the “state of getting someone and/or something ready for use”, which typically is done in anticipation of an event in the foreseeable future.
Preparation is to our career path, as a runway is to an airplane. Without it, no successful “takeoff” is possible.
I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky. ~ Oprah Winfrey
In order to suitably prepare yourself, implies that you have to pay close attention to the following actions, listed in order of importance…
- Research: Research is the systematic acquisition of information to broaden your current knowledge base and to better understand a particular topic, so that new facts can be obtained and verified, to confirm available information, to determine the validity of previous research results, to obtain answers to questions, the tweaking or adapting of existing goals and either the refining of existing or developing of new objectives. Research projects are conducted with the aim to further one's knowledge and understanding. For example… “What will be my dream career?”, “What strengths do I have?”, “How can I manage my weaknesses?”, “Which type of job opportunities suits me the best?”, workplace demands, job requirements, training needs, expected experiences, capabilities, …etc.
- Forecasting & alternative futures: Forecasting - sourcing from research conducted - is an appraisal of what your future might look like (e.g. your dream career), whereas alternative futures estimate what the future could look like for multiple scenarios (e.g. finding and securing a job and/or related jobs).
- Approximation: Approximation is guessing or estimating the time, effort and needed to achieve your goals and/or to obtain your objectives. Approximation doesn't have to be exact, but should at least be within the limits of accuracy required for a given purpose or situation, and depends on the outcomes of forecasting & alternative futures. Approximation helps you to determine the most productive professional development strategy that you can implement and follow.
- Planning: Planning (also called forethought) is the process of thinking ahead about and organizing the activities or actions required to achieve a desired goal or objective. It involves compiling and maintaining a plan and strategy to - for example - master the skill-set imperative for the successful pursuit of a profession. An important aspect of planning, which is often ignored, the relationship it holds to forecasting & alternative futures. Planning combines appraisals and estimations with the preparation of possible scenarios and how to respond to them. Planning is preparing a sequence of action steps (i.e. objectives) to achieve a specific goal. A plan is like a map… when following a plan, an individual can see how much they have progressed towards their goal and how far they are from their intended destination.
- Resourcing: Resourcing is the collection and/or constructing of a “proactive toolbox” containing a variety of resources (i.e. tools and techniques) to help, support and aid us to overcome obstacles and deal with various problems, issues or wicked challenges. The “toolbox” can be readily drawn upon, as and when needed or required. Anything that assists, guide or help us with troubleshooting and the solving of problems is regarded as a resource. The different “tools in our tool box” - for example - can range from things such as money, or any property that can be converted into money (i.e. assets); machines & equipment to personal capabilities; abilities; talents; initiative; common sense; resourcefulness; …etc.
- Education & Training: Is learning facilitation processes to acquire knowledge, master skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but individuals can also educate themselves and any experience that has a formative effect on the way we think, feel, or act are considered as educational and/or training. Education and training .
- Practicing: Repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill-sets, capabilities or proficiency's. Practice makes perfect. Practicing is gaining experience by means of frequently doing exercises and take actions or process of performing or doing something, such as study, work, train, work out, recite, drill, polish, habituate, build up, go over, run through, tune up, warm up, walk through, tweak, adapt, …etc.
- Rehearsing: A rehearsal is an activity that happens in preparation before executing the actual intended activity (e.g. a job interview). Its normally undertaken as an extended form of practicing to ensure that all aspects of the subsequent “performance” are adequately prepared and coordinated. The term “rehearsal” typically refers to the compilation of activities undertaken by a group of people. For example… when a musician is preparing for a concert at home or in a music studio, this is called 'practicing', but when s/he practice for a concert - for instance - with an orchestra, this is called a 'rehearsal'. A rehearsal may involve as few as two people, or a larger group of people, which - when seen in a professional context - might involve only individuals of “one type” (e.g. only engineers or managers) or it could involve individuals with different skill-sets (e.g. engineers, contractors, auditors). The latter, in a professional context, is generally seen, referred to or regarded as team building exercises to highlight what went well, is adequately prepared, suitably coordinated and to indicate what still needs to be practiced either individually and/or as a group or team.
In order to allow for productive preparation activities, please keep the following guidelines in mind…
- Understand: Do you actually understand what you are preparing for? Do you know why you are doing it? When your work is part of a larger project, do you know what the overall objectives are and what it is that you are trying to accomplish? If the answers to these questions don’t make sense or they do not accord with your personal goals, then your preparation might very well be a waste of time. When you don't understand why and for what purpose you are preparing yourself, there is no real point in doing it in the first place.
- Pace Yourself: Preparation isn’t all about seeing how fast you can get a job done. It’s more important to focus on doing it efficiently. This might imply that you have to revisit one particular area many times in order to perfect it and that is acceptable, because this is exactly what preparation is all about… to fully understand the obstacle, problem, issue, wicked challenge and master the capability to apply the necessary solution(s) effectively.
- Set time aside: Preparation is time-consuming and people often try to avoid it, wherever possible. But when you avoid preparation, you set yourself up for failure. What is the chance that you will be successful in a test or exam if you did not study beforehand? Therefore, task yourself to set aside a period of time - each and every day - to prepare yourself for whatever is required at the time and for a specific purpose and context.
Preparation takes time…
When you fail to prepare yourself, you are preparing to fail and you cannot get a plant to grow any faster . on its leaves!
- Preparation is essential, not optional.
- Being prepared saves time, money by limiting unproductive efforts.
- Failing to anticipate (i.e. being prepared), puts you at risk of failure and a competitive disadvantage.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Thus, preparing yourself by learning and mastering competencies and not just to pass test, exams and for , because in the end it is not what you have that actually counts, its what you can do with what you have that really matters. The following TED-talks as delivered by Sal Khan and John Green provide and explains the essential guidelines of preparation for mastery.