On the Path of Winners
By Bayo Ogunmupe
Preparation as key to success
What happens when you are unprepared is that what you hope for won’t happen. Preparation positions you correctly. Preparation is the difference between winning and losing. Spectacular achievement comes from adequate preparation. Lack of preparation is the primary reason for business failures today. That is why banks demand your business plan before granting you loans.
Talent may be a given, you have to earn success. Which is why Nigeria is in shambles. No Nigerian leader since independence had the preparation and talent to handle Nigerian reality. Proverbs 18:16 say: “A man’s gift makes room for him.” Thus, your talent can only give you the opportunity. Preparation alone can enable you take advantage of your opportunity.
United States General Douglas MacArthur said, “Preparedness is the key to success and victory.” He also put it more bluntly thus, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” The frustrating aspect of preparation is that it takes more time than the event you are preparing for. Understand that no matter your circumstance or talent, certain things are always within your grasp, your ability to work harder and smarter than anyone else. Always remember that when preparing for the challenges of your future.
Above all else, getting ready is the secret of success. Here are some preparation principles. One, preparation enables you to tap into your creativity. Two, preparation is a process, not an event. We live in a world of quick-fixes. We think in terms of instant gratification preparation doesn’t work that way. This is because it is human focused. Human oriented issues are process orientated. Like leadership, maximizing your talent develops daily. The best way to improve your team is to improve yourself.
Three, preparation comes before opportunity. Luck is the point where preparation meets opportunity. From Abraham Lincoln, Otto von Bismarck and Winston Churchill, preparation for opportunity was a common theme. Lincoln said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” Premier Benjamin Disraeli of England said, “The secret of success is for a man to be ready when his time comes.” Four, preparation for tomorrow must begin today. Your success in life will be determined by your preparation. Your future preparation will be determined by your ability to anticipate problems rather than solving them.
Five, preparation leads to seizing opportunities when they come. Thus, preparation is useless unless it leads you to take action on time. Preparation does not mean getting all the facts or the answers. It does not mean achieving consensus. Margret Thatcher, the longest serving British premier in the 20th century said, “Consensus is the negation of leadership.” Preparation puts you in a better position to succeed. Even a genius needs practice to sharpen his talent and reach his potential.
Six, practice sharpens your talent. You refine your skills through practice. Seven, practice leads to discovery. Eight, there is a price you must pay to reach the next level. This is a traveler’s principle. Before you enter into a cab, find out how much the ride is going to cost. If you don’t, you may end up paying much more than the ride is worth. Half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.
Nine, practice demands discipline. Practice engenders a winning mindset. Excellence is an art won by practice and habituation. Thus excellence is won through persistence.
There is a distinction between success and excellence. Success bases our worth on a comparison with others while excellence gauges our value by measuring it against our own potential. Excellence is available to those willing to prepare for success. By making excellence your target you attain success easily.
Charles Dickens was the greatest novelist of his day. Before he began writing fiction, he was already the best newspaper reporter in England. He could have remained where he was and stay at the top of his profession. But something inside him told him he was not in his area of excellence. So he shifted his focus in search of his greatest potential. You need to do the same.
At once you should find out where your greatest potentials lies and start practicing there. If you don’t you eventually lose your ingenuity. Potential works exactly opposite from the way a saving account does. When you put your money in a savings account in a bank, as time goes, your money compounds and grows. The longer you leave it untouched, the more it increases. But when it comes to potentials, the longer you leave it untouched the more it decreases. If you don’t tap your talent it wastes away.
The best way you can get the best from yourself is to set high standard for your greatest potential. Even if you do many things right, you need to fashion the right resources. Without adequate resources your efforts may come to nothing. During World War II, US general George Patton was an accomplished face to commander for the Allied Forces. He was innovative, focused and fearless. As a distinguished strategist and tactician, he was in charge of the tanks and soldiers to strike boldly against the Nazis and end the war. But he lacked petrol with which to act. Without fuel his tanks were useless. That prolonged the war. Fashion out adequate resources to accomplish your purpose.
Ten, going the extra mile is a secret of success. Historian Charles Adams, a former president of Cornell and Wisconsin Universities observed: No one ever attains eminence by simply doing what is required of him. It is the excellence of accomplishment over and above the required that determines greatness. The difference between the ordinary and extraordinary is attained while going the extra mile. That extra effort gains you the prize. You beat 50 percent of Nigerians by working hard you beat 40 percent by being honest among a generation of fraudsters. Besides, you must stand for something and the last ten percent is a dogfight in this free enterprise system. If you want to win that dogfight, then take a little extra time to go the extra mile.
The common trait among great people is that they have conquered the temptation to give up. Winning requires perseverance and patience. By cultivating your talent through giving extra time and effort, you cannot succeed without the help of others. You cannot become what you desire to be by remaining what you are. To sharpen your talent, you need more than being open to change. You need to pursue change. Change yourself to improve your circumstances. Do something new to get different results. If you don’t strive for excellence, you are soon settling down to mediocrity. And nobody hails a mediocre.