October 30 – Preparing my mind

October 30. “Chance favors the prepared mind.” (Louis Pasteur)

This past week I was on an interview team with another manager. We’ve interviewed together before, and have spoken a time or two besides that. In the time before the candidate arrived we were talking about how nervous these College students are who come to interview with us, and how we try to calm their nerves so they can relax and have a good interview. Along the way we both were mentioning how we like to prepare for things.

The other manager was talking about how he likes to do his homework on a topic in advance so that he can anticipate what questions may come up and be able to answer them without stumbling. I mentioned that I do the same thing, and even have encouraged those on my team to do this. I refer to it as “anticipating the next question”. When I send them off with a question to answer, I want them to not only answer that one, but be prepared for the next several, logical questions that come up. This other manager agreed with that approach.

When I was a Dale Carnegie instructor, we did a lot of work referencing the book The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking. In that book Dale Carnegie tells the story of a man who had to give a talk and went to the library where he checked out and read 40 books on the subject. When it came time to give the talk he had what Carnegie referred to as “Reserve Power”. He had enough background information to be able to anticipate and answer questions as they came up.

When I was a Scout leader we would take time in our meetings on a very regular basis to go over and practice First Aid and Emergency Preparedness procedures. Sometimes the boys would complain that we were going to this again, when they’d done it so many times before. What I tried to have them understand was that the more prepared they were in an emergency situation, the less time they would have to spend thinking about what to do next. The procedures would be so ingrained in them that the training would kick in and they would automatically do the right thing because they were so well prepared.

The more prepared I am in life, the better I can handle whatever challenges and chances are thrown my way. In any given situation, the person who is better prepared will always have the advantage over the unprepared person.

Today my reflection is on preparedness. I am in the first few weeks of a new assignment and I feel like my level of knowledge about the particulars of this job run only an inch deep. As I am learning the ropes, I know that to be successful in the long run I will have to increase my depth of preparation so that I can have that reserve power and so that chance will, indeed, favor my prepared mind.

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