Do you ever look back on a project and realise that you unwittingly set yourself and/or your team up for failure?  Is your tendency to rush to action or are you good at carefully preparing for success? I have learnt – to my cost at times – that my natural impulsiveness can result in hurried and poorly-planned execution, so I need to remind myself, and I ask my team to remind me, constantly to ‘slow down to speed up’.

Build up strength

The importance of preparing for success in a methodical, balanced and focused way has been brought home to me by my latest fitness goal: to do several proper pull-ups on a bar.

What I find interesting is the approach of my personal trainer in helping me achieve this goal. We’re not starting with one pull-up and building up to two, three, five, ten; we’re starting with no pull-ups!

His pull-up plan is centred on building up all the muscle groups required for the exercise, taking time to strengthen each of the necessary body parts in turn before we go near the bar. Only once all the parts of my back, shoulders, forearms, biceps, wrists, grip and core (and many other components!) are ready to take the strain, will I attempt a pull-up.  The body parts are all a team and if one team member is not pulling their weight, literally, then no weight will be pulled!

Tom, my trainer, assures me that, when the times comes, the pull-ups will be a breeze because we are preparing for success from the outset.

Pause for thought

Having a great new idea, setting goals or embarking on your latest project are exciting and invigorating. The temptation is to ‘go for it’, to take advantage of the impetus created by the idea itself. However, such speed to action frequently ends in regret and sometimes in things taking longer as we have to undo the harm done.

Preparing for success by giving yourself time for reflection can be all it takes to avert such disaster. As discussed in another recent blog, creating a quiet mind where you marshal your thoughts effectively will enable you to create your own reality and achieve your goals.

As with the pull-up plan, break down your goal into its constituent parts and put in place all the building blocks for success.  It may even be that you or your team members have to do things unrelated at first to build the muscle of skill and knowledge before starting work on the real challenge.

Where are the knowledge gaps? Are all the necessary skills in place? Good leadership requires the ability to ask for help, so collaborate with your team to ensure that you have the collective capability to succeed.

Be brave

Of course, there is the possibility that your big idea just won’t fly – not all of them do! Once you’ve put in the planning and thought through the requirements, perhaps the truth is that you need to be brave enough to stop and rethink your goal. Don’t let your ambition be dampened; take a reality check and reframe the aspiration.

When I next get fired up by a business development idea, I’ll remember to take inspiration from my personal trainer before getting carried away by the dream of world domination!

If you need help with preparing for success, our leadership and team transformation programmes may be useful.

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