How to be your best, always!

“Without preparation, you will fail at things you could easily master.” Mark Smith

How many times have you seen professionals “coast” through meetings with colleagues and clients. For these professionals, showing up seems to be the only requirement or “goal” they have. Moreover, many of these “professionals” are late, don’t have ambition and usually miss out on many opportunities.

For a better illustration, think of a boxer (many come to mind) that were at the top of their sport and enjoying success, to then be knocked off by someone with lesser skills and experience. These challengers win because they were more prepared! The champions lose because they feel they can rely on their talent, skills and experience, instead of putting in the hard work of properly preparing for the fight.

Preparation is key to success for everything we do. Packing and arranging transportation for a trip, stretching, waxing skis, wearing the right ski wear and perhaps taking a lesson before hitting the slopes, etc. When it comes to sports, vacation, and family planning, most people prepare well. So why is it when it comes to their careers and daily work related activities, some people don’t prepare at all and simply choose to simply “show up.”

I strongly encourage you all to be as prepared as possible in your professional lives! Here are a few pointers that, if done without fail, every day, will lead to more opportunities and success.

  1. Be to work on time. We all can easily access weather forecasts, event calendars, seasonal activities and peak times. Plan your commute to work accordingly. If you know there is going to be heavy rain the next day, leave for work 20 or 30 minutes earlier to accommodate any difficulty on the way. Being on time for work, meetings with colleagues and clients is mandatory.
  2. Depending on your company, you may have daily, weekly or monthly meetings. Be sure to get the most information out of them by preparing. Research topic points prior so you can absorb more and ask more detailed questions. Always have your numbers, statistics and prepared conversation points ready. Not only will you learn and benefit more, you will also “shine” brighter than your colleagues and opportunities will follow.
  3. Client and Customer Meetings. Make sure you research the people you are meeting, prepare required materials for review and or lead discussion points for important topics. Being prepared with data, facts, solutions and next steps will always give you an opportunity to build trust and win more business.
  4. Prioritization. Have a personal commitment and are unable to work late to prepare for something the next morning? Be responsible and ensure you do what is necessary when you can find time the night before. Never put off work to the same morning you have tasks due, meetings to attend or clients to visit. Something will always come up and you will get sloppy in trying to meet the deadline. Moreover, trying to do everything at the last minute makes you more stressed and this will show in your work, body language and attitude.
  5. Earn more. Are you in a position that have clear targets for promotion and or a pay increase? If yes, be sure to set a time goal for the task, activity or skill to be acquired. Then set mini milestones along the way for you to evaluate your progress. Make sure you are accomplishing the daily and weekly activities that will get you to your goal. If it will take 12 months to reach, set 30 or 40 milestones. The milestones should have “what must be accomplished” by the date. Work your butt off to stay on track.
  6. Time management. We all get distracted by others as well as new or urgent tasks. If you know these will come up, plan them in your day and week. Nothing happened today that distracted you? Great, use the extra time to do more toward your goal for that week because at some point, something will.
  7. Ask! For example: You want to be a top sales performer and as a salesperson, you are only delivering mediocre results. Invite the top sales person for lunch, dinner or drinks. Ask him or her everything about every activity, minute used, priority tasks, etc. You will find that high producers, in any and every job function, are prepared and prepare for everything. Copy that!

In business, sport and simply living, we could do so much more and be much more successful if we prepare. Don’t assume you can wing it because you have expert talent or vast experience, because just as an unprepared boxer, no matter how talented, you will get knocked off your feet. It is not a matter of if… but when.

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