PrepChecklistRobert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, uttered some sage advice: “Be prepared.”  He said a person should be prepared “for any old thing.”  How do you prepare for future needs? For challenges? For opportunities?

My wife is a school teacher. Enriching young lives is in her blood.  She earned her undergraduate degree in sociology and then decided that a master’s degree in education would be more marketable.  She student-taught at a Hebrew academy, spent six months as an exchange student in Spain – which prepared her to teach their language – and then landed a high-school teaching position at her alma mater.  Early in our marriage, she was up before dawn and off to school. She loved teaching, and she was good at it.  With our first child on the way, she resigned to be a stay-at-home-Mom. (She later got a call from the principal of her school, inviting her to come back and teach anytime.)  Within a few years, we had two more children, and my wife homeschooled them all.  She didn’t teach other people’s kids very often, but she taught our kids – and me. She was always telling us intellectually stimulating stuff. And we took field trips to Native-American museums, to an ancient Egyptian exhibit in Nashville and to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

After eight years as a homemaker – plus 11 years of homeschooling – my wife considered going back to teaching in public schools.  She and I agreed this was good timing. Our two youngest had entered public schools, and our oldest was in college.  After almost two decades out of the classroom, this was a big challenge for my wife.  But, she prepared herself remarkably well.

She found out what was required to maintain her teaching license, and she took those classes online. (It was demanding material.) Then she got an interview over the phone for a teaching position. They called her in the same day for a face-to-face interview. Two interviews a few hours apart, and she was hired in one day. Then, in rapid succession, came teachers’ in-service and the first day of classes.  After a 19-year absence from school desks populated by young people, chalk boards and faculty meetings, my wife was again a public school educator.  Through it all, she prepared herself for what was ahead.

Here’s what she did:

  • She recognized a need,
  • Used foresight to learn what was required to meet that need,
  • Planned a strategy and followed through (Or, you could say, she planned her work and worked her plan.) and
  • Did what needed to be done, when it needed to be done without having to be told.

These same steps of action can help us all in our jobs. They can keep us from stagnating and can prepare us for future needs. This can benefit us, our companies, our clients and others.  According to the actor Denzel Washington, “I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you’re prepared for it.”

What kind of work do you do?  I’ll bet you can recognize a need, learn what is required, make a plan, and follow-through and improve your success.  My wife prepared herself for a real challenge and met with success.  You can, too.

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