By Andrew D. Wittman, PhD
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur
Previously we looked at anticipation in pressure proofing. Preparation goes hand in hand with anticipation. In fact, without preparing for what you anticipate, there is no point in wasting any time or energy “keeping your eyes up” or trying to glimpse that bird’s eye view. Why bother to recognize a collision course if you aren’t going to take evasive action? Unfortunately, the vast majority of folks do this very thing, and then cite “how lucky” the ones who avoided the crash were.
Well, luck, chance, or happenstance favors the ones who are prepared. When I was the lead advance agent for Senator Joe Lieberman’s security detail, my job was to precede him, by two days, to every city in which he travelled. This was especially challenging during the lead up to his presidential run. I had to not only anticipate the scheduled events, any contingencies and all possible threats, but to prepare an action plan, in the event exigencies became realities.
I literally had to learn each city and venue like the back of my hand, or more accurately, like a local native of the area. I remember one trip to a large Midwestern city that was a last minute add on to the Senator’s itinerary. I landed late in the afternoon, the evening prior to his arrival. I never did go to sleep that night. I advanced each of the event venues first, and pushed off the route planning to each site until after midnight. I made arrangements for marked police escorts to lead the way, but what if the escorts were late or didn’t show up, or there was construction along the way, or a wreck? I had to prepare, and the only way to do that was to stay up and learn the routes myself. I spent the grave-yard shift driving the primary routes and multiple alternates.
Sure enough, the next morning, the police escort made a wrong turn. I didn’t follow him, the Senator noticed and asked about it. I reassured him with a calmness that only comes from the confidence of the prepared, and drove to the next stop.
Can you imagine the pressure I would have felt if I hadn’t prepared for that contingency, and just went to sleep instead? My anticipation of such a turn of events led to my preparation, and boy, was I lucky…. Not so much. My preparation directly fed into my level of confidence. I had no second guessing, I wasn’t “winging it”, and therefore didn’t need luck.
You don’t need luck either, just some good old fashioned prep work.