I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous, insane, obsessiveness for practice and preparation. My father used to say all the time, ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.’ So if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready. That is how I run my life. ‘Just stay ready.’ Stay in shape and then you don’t have to rush to train before the movie starts. I’ll show you my abs later because I’m in shape. But that idea, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. So I had this preparation, I had this performance, I’ve seen it in my mind and I know I’m going to go out there and deliver this performance that way that I want to do it. – Will Smith
There is a fundamental difference between those who succeed and those who can only dream of treading the same path.
The difference is in their mentality, their preparation; how they view themselves in relation to where they want to be. How big is that gap? How can I get to the other side as quickly as possible? Am I ready to leap across when destiny calls?
Most people can’t answer these questions because they are blind to the world around them. They lack the self-awareness to know who they really are beyond the face that stares back in the mirror. They have no idea which path to take or even how to get there – reactors in a reactive world. Waiting for something to happen and hoping they will stumble towards the right answer.
Why be like this?
Take the initiative. Ask yourself the questions before anyone else does. Choose your path before it’s chosen for you. Don’t let other people decide who you are – show them. If you pre-empt the world around you and prepare yourself accordingly, everyone else will be dancing to your tune.
How ready are you?
1. Never leave the house looking like you’ve just got out of bed
How you present yourself to the world has a huge effect on your potential for success.
We all have clothing that we set aside for special occasions. It could be a dress that you only wear on certain nights out or a suit that only sees the light of day at job interviews. Maybe it’s a t-shirt that you save for first dates because it makes your arms look bigger or a pair of shoes that seem a little too extravagant for the office.
Why would you not want to look your best?
By saving half of your wardrobe for special occasions you are subconsciously telling yourself that you’re not important enough to wear these in your ordinary day to day life.
Have you ever wondered why rich and powerful people scrub up well on a daily basis? It’s because they are marketing themselves as important people worthy of looking like that. They are walking billboards for success.
If you look like shit, you won’t be surprised to find out that people will start treating you like shit.
2. Always be prepared to meet someone important
You never know when you’ll be face to face with destiny.
Real Madrid fanatic, Abel Rodriguez, having just been turned away by a couple of uninterested security guards, chose to brave the snowy conditions and wait patiently for the next 5 hours in the off chance that he would catch a glimpse of his heroes.
The 41 year old Mexican-American from California recently withdrew his life savings and with words of encouragement from his family, made the pilgrimage to Madrid’s Valdebebas training complex in a desperate attempt to find a ticket for their upcoming El Clasico encounter with Barcelona – his lifelong dream.
Whilst shivering on the side of the road, perhaps feeling like he had made a huge mistake, something amazing happened. Real’s manager Jose Mourinho noticed Rodriguez and immediately got out of his car and wanted to know why this man was 6000 miles from home.
It turns out that Mourinho had remembered Rodriguez from the previous summer when he volunteered as a ball boy for their pre-season tour. In total shock, Rodriguez explained his situation and Mourinho not only gave him the tickets but also offered him a temporary job as a kit man for the following week’s Champions league tie against Manchester United.
Insisting that he pay his own expenses, Mourinho replied, “When you’re with me in Europe, you don’t pay for shit.”
Abel Rodriguez took a chance, and it paid off.
Everyone’s favourite bearded billionaire, Richard Branson is the kinda guy who lives and breathes opportunities. He no doubt wakes up every morning with the belief that today will be another checked box on his badass calendar.
Throughout his life he has taken advantage of situations because he has the mentality to seek these opportunities out. Nothing gets past him. If there is profit to be made, he will make it. Take the famous story of how he started Virgin Atlantic as an example;
In the early 80’s Branson was heading to the Virgin Islands as he had a ‘pretty young girl’ waiting for him. Unfortunately, the plane had maintenance issues and was cancelled, leaving Branson and numerous other passengers stranded.
Feeling that this was a ridiculous situation, he chartered a private plane to take him to his destination, which was a little foolish as he didn’t have the money immediately available. So his entrepreneurial brain kicked into overdrive and he created a board advertising seats on his plane for just $29 which he used to entice other stranded passengers.
Branson wanted a plane, he got a plane.
Branson didn’t have the money, he found the money.
Branson arrived at his destination because he was alert enough to make something happen.
Life is full of opportunities but many of us miss out because we barely know what day of the week it is.
Start paying attention and see what happens.
4. Be decisive – don’t dither
How decisive are you? Are you capable of trusting your instincts or do you hide away in the hope that someone else will make the choice on your behalf?
Any situation in which you’re caught in two minds is almost certainly a situation in which you have no control over, and it stems from a lack of preparation. The rabbit in the headlights look demonstrates a person who has no idea what they are doing, and worse, has no idea how to adapt to the environment.
At its evolutionary core, this is the fight or flight response. It’s the adrenaline dump that hits us immediately prior to being ripped away from our comfort zone. You’re probably more familiar with this response by its common name, fear.
It paralyses those who aren’t prepared for its arrival. Kidnappers and muggers rely on this adrenaline dump to take advantage of the confusion and fear that follows their sudden appearance. It’s why you are urged to anticipate such attacks by briefly looking round at that mysterious person 20 steps behind you. If it is a potential attacker, the fact you have clocked their position is often enough to put them off because the element of surprise has been taken from their arsenal.
Why do guys panic and appear nervous when spoken to by an attractive woman? Why are you often left speechless when your boss suddenly requires your input on an important work matter? Why are many professional fighters taken out by men half their size in altercations outside of their preferred arena?
They don’t expect anything to happen, and when it does, they have no answer.
In all walks of life, preparation is the key to success. If you anticipate a situation then you’re already halfway there. It’s just common sense. If you’re walking down a dark alley in a rough part of town, you must know it’s possible to bump into an unsavoury character. If you’re out clubbing, you must know it’s possible to chat to an attractive female. If you’re at work you must know it’s possible your boss will want to talk to you.
Anticipate – evaluate – action.
If you always wear your game face – you’ll always be ready.
How decisive are you? Do you grasp opportunities or allow them to slip by? What’s your biggest regret and what did you learn from it?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.