Despite Popular Belief, Preparation Never Ever Ends

This past weekend, I spoke to the youth at my church on the importance of preparation. It was our annual back-to-school program, and we wanted to make sure we not only sent them off with supplies but also with a meaningful message or two.

The subject of my message immediately made me think of the following quote by Henry Hartman:

Success is when preparation meets opportunity.

After reflecting on it a bit, I realized that it actually negates what most of us believe it means to be prepared. I wondered: If success occurs when you are prepared to meet an opportunity that you may or may not know even exists – far less that it’s coming your way – then can you ever really “get” prepared?

Growing up my idea of being prepared for a test meant spending a few days before the exam studying. Much didn't change in college, even when it came time to preparing for a job interview. I thought it meant making sure that my shirt was pressed, that I'd done my company research and printed out my resume.

But really, that's not the case. Preparation started long before I realized. Being prepared for that test in high school also required my attendance to class and my attention in class. Preparation for that big interview required prior experiences that would demonstrate my ability to do the job as well as strong oral communication skills which I had been working on for years through my presentations in class and conversations with other professionals. Furthermore, acing the test or getting the job was only preparing me for future opportunities.

Preparation is a process that occurs long before you are even aware of an opportunity. Preparation, in my mind, is actually a never ending process resulting from continuous development, a result of constant learning. And while it is possible to take targeted actions toward specific goals, it is not those actions alone that will make you prepared to take advantage of an opportunity.

So what are you doing today to prepare for your next opportunity?