My dear friends Dale and Shela Dean visited over the holidays. Shela is a noted author and relationship coach, who has helped me tremendously over the years. Much to their dismay - and my delight - they got caught by the Polar Vortex and their return flight was cancelled not once but twice.
But they were prepared to sit it out with iPads, books, and a willingness to take life as it came. In fact, Dale's motto is "Ready Now." Ask him if he'd like to visit a museum, try a Korean dumpling house, or hike the trail to Machu Picchu, he always answers with an enthusiastic "ready now." Best of all, he means it!
How do you stay prepared for life -- both the unwanted setbacks and the unexpected opportunities? Here are a few principles of preparedness so you can handle life's curveballs with a minimum of stress and a maximum of joy.
- HAVE A SIMPLE FRAMEWORK. Use the old "rocks first, sand second" adage for focusing on the big priorities and letting everything else fill in the gaps. The idea is that if you have an empty jar and pour in the sand (i.e., little stuff) first, you won't have room for the rocks (i.e., big priorities). So make sure you're taking action on the big agenda items, filling in with lower-value tasks as time allows. For a simple format, download my 2014 Objectives & Actions Worksheet and start putting your objectives and actions in place.
- DON'T DWELL ON PROBLEMS, SOLVE THEM. It's okay to mull over a setback or vent to friends about the unfairness of your situation, but sooner rather than later, start moving toward a solution. You'll feel better once you get into action. If in doubt, go back to your Objectives Worksheet and determine if the problem is a big one that needs to be rectified immediately or if its smaller scope means that you can put it on the back-burner, that is, drop it into Q2 or Q3 on your worksheet.
- GET TRAINED ON YOUR TOOLBOX. Decide what tools are most useful to you and get properly trained on them. This includes your smartphone, computer, email marketing system, social media platforms, customer relationship management system, or anything else that helps you stay productive. Don't over-reach, it's better to keep your toolbox small and usable than to buy every new gadget that comes along.
- MAXIMIZE YOUR SHOULDER SEASON. In the travel industry, the shoulder season is that slower period of time between the high and low seasons. For me, it's December and August when there are fewer conferences to keynote. That's the time to update, organize, restructure and generally clear the decks so you're ready for high season action.
- HIRE BEFORE YOU NEED HELP. As a coach, I often see corporate executives juggling three jobs rather than hiring or delegating. Or entrepreneurs trying to do it all rather than outsourcing. To be ready for the big opportunities, you need to put people in place and get them trained before you need them. That means delegating a stretch task to a subordinate or bringing on a freelancer for a project to give them a trial run. That way, you'll have a team in place that will always be READY NOW!