Always Prepare to Win!

This message is the kind you would expect at a graduation ceremony.  However, I believe the essence of it belongs almost everywhere: in college recruiting conversations, freshmen orientation, classroom lectures, course assignments, student meetings with the dean, family meetings, parents advising their children, employee meetings with the boss, team meetings, church services and blog posts like this one.

“Knowledge gives you power… The more knowledge
you have about a subject, the better equipped
you become to link your daily experience to new opportunity.”

– Zig Ziglar and Tom Ziglar, “Born to Win”, p. 79, 81

Knowledge is Important, But…

Apparently, when it comes to formal education, we get it!  Formal education is widely considered invaluable as part of life’s preparation.  Although I tend to qualify this because the college experience is valuable only to the extent that one pays attention.  The late Jim Rohn said it this way: “Rarely does a good idea interrupt you.

Educational opportunities created in school make way for the acquisition of knowledge and a controlled environment where students can experiment with what they learn.  Of course, the diploma that one earns has value as a key credential for employment and advancement.  However, there’s one success factor that is widely overlooked — self-education.  College isn’t the only development opportunity and it doesn’t meet all growth needs.

“Formal education will make you a living.
Self-education will make you a fortune.”
– Jim Rohn

…Knowledge Without Wisdom is Impotent!

Your diploma is not a guarantee for success.  It’s not an invitation for a seat at the boardroom table.  It’s not a ticket to employment.  It’s not even a promise of getting an interview.  It is merely one of many essential credentials to be considered for employment.  While having an education will not always lead to the interview you want, you can be certain that not having one will likely disqualify from getting the interview.  The reason is simple.  Employers hire people, not repositories of knowledge.  The value you bring to the market goes beyond what you know.

Preparation Increases Your Value

Whether the task is small or large, always prepare.  Preparing means, “equipping yourself with the tools, skills, knowledge and attitudes you need to turn your plans into reality.”  Preparation includes learning, planning and practice.  Only then can you expect consistent and successful execution.

“The few who do are the envy of the many
who only watch.” – Jim Rohn

Success is the result of our daily commitment to preserving and increasing our value in the marketplace.  So, every day we should ask ourselves the following three questions:

  1. What will I do today to learn and grow?  (my promises)
  2. What will I do today to implement what I’ve learned and who I’ve become?  (my promises)
  3. How well did I do today in the areas of learning and implementation?  (assessing my promises)

“You must get good at one of two things:
planting in the spring or begging in the fall.”
– Jim Rohn

Prepare to Win is more than a slogan.  It’s the name of a program to help you become a better learner and a better implementer.  Click HERE for more information.

How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 11)

Successful people learn and grow before they have to.  A baseball player doesn’t just submit a resume and interview for the World Series.  He learns the game, works out, practices the fundamentals and gains experience at many levels.  People in all walks of life earn the privilege of playing in their industry’s “World Series” only when they prepare and “pay their dues.”

While most folks are willing to prepare once they see an opportunity, a whole new level of success comes to those who consistently, intentionally and strategically prepare for opportunities that don’t yet exist. Are you up to the challenge?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father

“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”
— Bobby Knight, College Basketball Coach

Preparation is a simple process: enlightenment, engagement, empowerment, repeat.  Although simple, it is not always easy.  Preparation is part intellectual, part experience, part emotional, part belief, part conditioning, and part repetition.  Here are the three stages of growth.

Enlightenment

It’s true for you, me and everyone else — we don’t know what we don’t now.  Enlightenment, the first stage of growth, is the passing from ignorance to awareness and from awareness to understanding. Sounds simple, right?  It can be for those with curiosity.  Curiosity is the inspiration that causes us to ask “How?” and “Why?”  It’s the energy of learning.  Growth begins with a healthy measure of curiosity.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but where human beings are concerned,
the only thing a healthy curiosity can kill is ignorance.”
— Harry Lorayne, Memory-training specialist, magician

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”
— William Arthur Ward, Author

Engagement

So, you learned something new.  Now what?  The next stage begins with a choice.  You can reject the knowledge or you can file it away for the future.  There’s a third radical option you can apply it!  The value of knowledge grows with application and your understanding along with it. While sorting the useful stuff from the rest, take a few whacks and see what happens.  Be creative.  Look for interesting ways to use your new knowledge and practice your new skills.  You might be surprised.

“The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.”
— George Eliot, Novelist

“You don’t know how much artists go through to make it look so easy.
It’s all in the practice.”

Lauryn Hill, Singer, actress

Empowerment

There’s value in the first two stages.  But, the greatest value is not in having knowledge and experience.  It’s the empowered person you become during the process.  This new and improved person gains confidence and a preference favoring the newfound knowledge and capabilities over the old.  As the growth process continues, preference transforms into conviction.  That’s real growth — that’s empowerment!

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
— Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”
— Napoleon Hill, Author

In a rapidly-changing world, success comes to those who have a hunger to grow even when there is no apparent urgency.  People who learn only when they have to are sabotaging their futures.