March 2, 2012
This week, the saga of arguably the most unusual Daytona 500 ever unfolded before my eyes. Sunday was supposed to mark the 54th running of the famed race. However, for the first time in its history, not one lap was run on race day due to a rainstorm seemingly without end. The event was postponed until prime time Monday when, track dried, the green flag finally fell. All proceeded per usual for some 160 of 200 laps until Juan Pablo Montoya, under caution, lost control of his car and struck a track drier – igniting 200 gallons of jet fuel into a fireball that engulfed turn 3 and led to a 90-minute stoppage of the race.
Almost immediately after the bizarre wreck occurred, the Daytona Motor Speedway track crew sprang into action, quickly and systematically attending to each detail of the aftermath which even included deploying some dozen warehouse-club-sized boxes of Tide laundry detergent to complete the clean-up. It was as if they had rehearsed things. Clearly, the gang was prepared and it showed. As I watched the team work, it occurred to me that calamity seems less calamitous when people are prepared for it.
That’s the point for the week.
Success is directly proportional to preparedness.
When we are unprepared for surprises we’ll idle away precious time hand-wringing, fretting, and pacing about in search of some clue about what to do next. We’ll erode trust and confidence among our team who won’t help but notice our paralysis. We’ll stand stock-still while the world passes us by.
But when we are ready for every possible outcome, because we’ve thought about and prepared for them, we’ll win more. We’ll do so because we’ll spend more time on forward progress. We’ll outpace less prepared competitors. We’ll remain calm in any circumstance, buoyed by the knowledge that we have a plan.
As a result, those around us will remain nonplussed as well. They’ll achieve focus, resolve, and a determined pace that enables the entire team to move systematically past the mess, on their way to a desired place never lost sight of through the flame.
When our world catches fire, those who follow us expect us to have answers. They expect us to know the way out. They expect us to lead.
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