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January 2012 - Leaders Must Be Prepared

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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Dr. John KlineMy November 2011 column contained a poem I wrote for 300 freshmen leadership students at Troy University—“Five P’s for Leaders”—Priority, Positivity, Preparation, Perseverance, and People.  The July 2010 column was on Priority.  The December 2011 column was on Positivity.  This month’s column is on Preparation.  Here are three quotations about the importance of preparation:

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”  This quotation attributed to Bobby Unser, the great American racecar driver who three times won the Indianapolis 500, is so true.  I often hear people say how some leader was lucky and guessed right.  Successful leaders don’t guess; they and their associates do their homework and make decisions based on the best information they can gather.  Armed with the facts, they are ready to act when opportunities arise.

“Today’s preparation ensures tomorrow’s success.”  I searched to see who said this, but I couldn’t find the quotation attributed to anyone; so I will claim it. I have been either a university administrator or university professor for over four decades and I am convinced preparation ensures success in college, at work, and in all other areas of life.  Furthermore, as a student of leadership and communication, I know without a shadow of doubt that leaders who are successful today, prepared yesterday.

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”  The origin of this and similar quotations is unclear, but the truth is indisputable. While the two previous quotations stressed the value of preparation, this one warns what happens if a leader does not prepare.  The truth of these words is driven home by the parable of the ten virgins who planned to attend a wedding at an undermined time. The five wise ones prepared and took oil for their lamps; the five foolish ones took no oil.  Then they fell asleep.  Suddenly at midnight the bridegroom appeared.  The five wise virgins lighted their lamps and rushed to meet him.  Having no oil for their lamps, the five foolish ones missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

These three quotations stress the importance of preparation.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama
jkline@klinespeak.com

January 2012 - Leaders Must Be Prepared
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