Thoughts on Leadership: The Importance of Preparation

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels found me first in Dallas to rehearse for the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention and next in Northern California where I continue to get ready for our upcoming event, happening March 4-6 in San Antonio. Our theme this year is “Innovation” and the topic plays well with the serious preparation happening for Sales Convention.

In my mind, innovation and change cannot happen unless you’re fully and totally prepared for the changes taking place. It’s always interesting to me when something major is happening—a big change, the launch of an innovative endeavor—and people wish you “good luck” with regards to this new development. Of course, the well wishes are always appreciated (as leaders, we must forever be humble and grateful for the support we’re given) but luck in the context of effective leadership is an interesting thing to study.

Gino Blefari, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, with Dwight Clark, All-Pro wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and five-time Super Bowl champion.

What is luck anyway? As my good friend Dwight Clark, former All-Pro wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and five-time Super Bowl champion reiterates often, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” (On a side note, as I write this post to you now, I’m preparing to meet him for lunch.) In other words, when opportunity knocks and luck stands at your threshold, you must know exactly how to open the door and what to do when luck is standing there. A prepared leader knows how to shake luck’s hand—with a firm handshake, of course—and then is ready to 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 he or she couldn’t capitalize. 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. If a leader isn’t prepared, how can he or she expect team members to be prepared?

There are countless examples throughout history of successful leaders championing the benefits of preparation. Centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Muhammad Ali explained, “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.” And Zig Ziglar said, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” And finally, Confucius once said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”

So, what’s the message? It’s difficult to talk innovation without first talking preparation. In order for change to take hold in a way that’s sustainable and beneficial, you must first put in the groundwork and prepare. Just like a house cannot stand without a solid foundation, preparation is the groundwork we must lay before we can build something exciting, refreshing and completely new. But more on all things innovation coming to San Antonio soon …

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