Be prepared, but not too much

13 October 2008

LORES_Steve_bagshaw By Steve Bagshaw

What is the correct level of preparation for a big event? Or even a surprise event. If you have a presentation coming up or a vital negotiation how much time should you allow yourself and how to spend it? It varies from person to person, but the general consensus seems to be “loads and loads”. Is that the correct approach?

Of course “winging it” doesn’t pay off – or only rarely. And over-preparation just causes panic, anxiety and almost certainly affects performance negatively. So what is the answer? As is the case for most things in depends on the individual. But here is an interesting example of what I would call default preparation – maintaining a constant level of preparedness so if you called on at the last minute, you can still shine.

A colleague of mine did a 10K race yesterday. And in a highly respectable sub-60 minute time. Yet she didn’t know she was doing the run until Saturday morning. No time to panic, worry or even really prepare. Plainly, her default preparation paid off. The training and readiness left her “match-fit”.

What does that teach us about the way we work? We would like to think we are ready would an unexpected chance to shine came our way, but is it true? If the boss came called you in today and wanted you to join him/her tomorrow morning for a presentation, would you be in a blind panic? Or do you have enough knowledge, contacts and information about what is going on to hand. Is your default preparation up to scratch?

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