Thursday, January 3, 2013

Preparing for the Game

Watching the Sugar Bowl reminded me of what happens in business.  One team came ready to win while the other team came over confident destined to lose.  Many times I have pitched an idea, product or service only to find my competitor winning out in the end.  Over the years I have spent much time thinking about those times - the times I thought I had the deal in the bag only to find out I didn’t.  A friend recently sent me a quote that painfully reminds me of those hard lessons learned – “There is nothing to be ashamed of when you prepared to the best of your ability.  But you have ample cause to be dejected when you know you didn’t prepare properly when you had the ability to.” – John Wooden

There have been many times I went into a deal thinking I have this, so I didn’t spend a great deal of time preparing.  I would think, “I have this, I know this, I have this in the bag”, only to lose in the end.  Not until it hurt badly did I decide to change.  The other piece of the puzzle is you have to believe you can win.  When you believe you cannot be beat there is a higher sense of confidence.  People like to deal with people who are confident.  But there is a danger in confidently believing you will win.  As the Florida Gators demonstrated in the Sugar Bowl misjudging your opponent and confidently believing you will win without proper preparation will end in losing.  Louisville on the other hand confidently demonstrated their belief they could win by flawlessly executing what they prepared for in practice leading up to the game.  

The same holds true in whatever the situation – sports, relationships, business or a difficult situation.  How well do you prepare?  How well do you know your job? How well do you know your product or service?  These are questions you should be asking yourself.  When capabilities, products or services are very similar many times the deciding factor will be who is better prepared.  I promise just one more Sugar Bowl example.  To start the second half Florida kicked off to Louisville.  Florida kicked an onside kick something they had not done all season.  The Florida coach must have assumed that Louisville had prepared for the game based on what they saw on this season’s game film – since there were no onside kicks on film maybe Louisville could be caught by surprise.  However, that was not the case.  In fact, Louisville had anticipated the possibility and had a majority of their receivers on the field instead of the special teams players – which was something the Florida coach completely missed.  Louisville had prepared for all possibilities.

How many times have you sat across the table from a customer only to be blindsided by the competition because you didn’t fully prepare for all possibilities? 

As I begin 2013, I am resolute in being prepared for all possibilities that come my way.  As John Wooden stated there is nothing wrong if I prepared to the best of my ability but do not win.  But I have no one to blame but myself if I lose because of a lack of preparation.  It starts with believing, moves to preparation and ends with confidently demonstrating you are prepared for all possibilities.  What do you believe you will achieve in 2013?  How are you preparing for the game?