This week my travels found me first in Pinehurst, NC on the very golf course which, since 1898 has been the playing ground for golf championships as well as champions of the sport like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Payne Stewart. I was at the historic Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst for the GearUp 2017 awards ceremony hosted by the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty family of brokerages, led by president and CEO Tommy Camp, with Maureen Sammon, president and CEO of HomeServices Lending in attendance. The event was filled with hundreds of passionate agents, all gearing up for a successful year ahead.
Next, I flew to Dallas to rehearse with my team for our upcoming Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention in Phoenix. It always strikes me as interesting how right around this time each year, as I prepare to address thousands of our network members from our general session stage, I receive several messages wishing me good luck at the convention. I always appreciate the support and the phrase is a fascinating one to analyze in the context of effective leadership.
What does “good luck” mean anyway?
As my good friend Dwight Clark, former All-Pro wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and five-time Super Bowl champion says, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” In other words, opportunity knocks—luck stands at your threshold—and when you hear this fortunate sound, you know exactly how to open the door, what to say when luck is standing there, staring you right in the face. So, you shake luck’s hand—a firm handshake, of course—and then you make things happen.
When an opportunity is missed, when luck comes knocking and no one is home to answer the door, we can attribute this to a leader’s insufficient preparation. Simply put: An opportunity arrived and they just weren’t ready. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that not only affects the leader but also affects every member of the leader’s team. Preparation is like that—a trickle-down entity with the power to allow companies and leaders to very quickly rise or fall.
Another important component to preparation is accountability. Hold yourself accountable or find someone who will. In fact, a recent Forbes article described preparation as the act of “being proactive to deliver on a responsibility you are accountable for.” As a leader, accountability is a never-ending facet of every initiative, project and transaction you tackle; without accountability, preparation becomes meaningless, opportunities become harder to grasp and luck more difficult to capitalize on.
Here’s what five famous leaders have to say about the importance of preparation:
- “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.” – Muhammad Ali
- “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “Most people have the will to win. Few have the will to prepare to win.” – Bobby Knight
- “Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.” – Amelia Earhart
- “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” – Zig Ziglar
So, what’s the message? Preparation as a major factor to compelling leadership is nothing new. In fact, Confucius once said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Yet even this concept, thousands of years in the making, is overlooked as a critical component to leadership today. Because while preparation is not a sure-fire way to accomplish absolutely everything in business or life, remember that even if there is preparation without success, there is never success without preparation.