Lesson 67: Over-prepare.

Published 3:05 pm Thursday, April 1, 2010

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

Colin Powell

Few people can claim to have faced greater adversity than New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani did on September 11, 2001, as terrorist attacks sent two of our nations largest and most important buildings tumbling to the ground.

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Giulianis management of the crisis and its extensive aftermath earned him universal praise and the nickname Americas Mayor. How could he have handled such an impossible situation so well? Preparation.

I once heard the mayor give a speech about the qualities of leadership. One of the keys he emphasized was preparation. He still points to the extensive preparations he and his staff had made for unforeseen disasters. Knowing that the island of Manhattan was vulnerable to a variety of serious crisesbut not knowing what the specific situation might behe made a variety of plans that might never be needed. As it turned out, those preparations were vital to the citys recovery.

Preparation is important in almost every area of your life, and it can make the difference between success and failure. Its not always fun to prepare, and it may take a lot of effort, but its usually worth it. And you just might find a direct correlation between the amount of preparation and the success of your project.

Michael Jordan spent countless thousands of hours practicing alone before he began his superstar career. I suspect that he endured derogatory comments about his level of dedication both from other kids and adults. But something inside the young boy drove him on, ultimately resulting in his permanent place among the greatest athletes of all time.

Of course, MJ possessed a level of talent that most of us can only dream about, and Im not suggesting that you should devote yourself exclusively to a single goal as he did. But neither should you neglect preparations that can boost your success and put you in a position to overcome some problemor even avoid disaster.

The cases of Giuliani and Jordan, while very different, both emphasize the importance of preparation. In fact, you may sometimes need to

over-prepare. It has been

said that you cant possibly prepare for every possible

situationbut you can prepare for 90 percent of them. If you do that, the other 10 percent will be much easier to deal with.

Excerpted from “The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School” by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.