“Be Prepared”

January 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

I think I should start at the beginning.  For me the words “Be Prepared” are at the very core of my understanding of leadership.  Many of you will know that these words were penned by Lord Robert Baden-Powell the founder of the Boy Scouts and named Chief Scout of the World in 1920 at the first World Jamboree.  These words still stand as the very core of scouting ideals.  When I think of leadership I think: “BE PREPARED!”

It is not simply that my first leadership experience came through scouting.  As a youth the importance of preparedness as a leadership skill escaped me.  I understood the need of all citizens to be prepared as a part of daily life for their own comfort and safety.   I did not see preparedness as a leadership issue until later in life. 

In order to be a good servant leader one must be able to lead in many different environments and situations.  Those who are mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for the many trials of daily life will certainly serve others better than those who are not prepared and therefore fail in leading others when those trials inevitably come.  The trial may be as common as a loss of a communications system or as severe and unusual as a major natural disaster.  Are you prepared top deal with either….right now?

If you wish to lead you must be confident in your ability to deal with anything.  When Baden-Powell was asked what he meant when he said that a scout was prepared. He said that he meant they were prepared for anything…everything.  That is a tall order! 

How can anyone be prepared for everything?  Preparedness does not come from the storage of supplies (although this is important for certain disasters) but from preparing the mind with a broad range of knowledge and the practiced ability to plan on the run.  It also comes from a confidence that comes from planning and learning.

As an exercise try this.  Next time you are out let yourself daydream a bit and consider what “could happen” where you are.  It may be a fire, an accident or even a first aid emergency.  Then dram it through.  What will you do?  How will you respond?  What do you see around you that you could use to assist you?  Think back to the famous scene in “The Princess Bride”  where the man in black, the Spaniard and the giant are planning to storm a castle with sixty  guards at the gate.  They listed their assets, made a plan and carried the day.  Fairy tale or not, this is how it is done. 

After you play your day-dream out in your head ask yourself a question: could I do better in the future if I had more information at my disposal?  Set yourself a goal of gaining that knowledge and then move on to other scenarios.  After a short time you will find yourself more prepared than ever.  You may even want to share your self test here in the comment section.  You will also find yourself seeking some additional “assets” like an automotive or home emergency kit, a first aid kit or a fire extinguisher.  The more you work the better prepared you will be.  In turn, the more service you can be to others in an emergency. 

This service, in an emergency in the peace of an average day, is the first step in good leadership.

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