Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from my dad, but at the top of that list is “always be prepared.”
Be prepared? For what?
Well, for anything and everything, really.
I never took this lesson very seriously. My dad usually spoke with a slightly sarcastic, joking tone. He constantly tested me and my brother to see if we were sharp enough, and then he’d be really disappointed if we didn’t figure it out. In hindsight, it was pretty unfair because 1) We had no idea we were being tested and 2) We didn’t even know what the hell the test was.
Despite my father’s incredibly frustrating and ironic model for learning, I think I finally understand what he’s been trying to tell us all of these years. You can’t succeed if you’re not ready to entirely throw yourself into making shit happen.
Preparation forces commitment. You know how people can be pretty flakey these days? Well, preparation helps alleviate the chances of flakiness and indecision. It doesn’t matter if it’s a GORUCK Challenge or you’re about to raid a house and crack some skulls; if you prepare for it, you’re invested. Whether it’s with your time and money or sweat and bullets, you’ve placed some tangible value into making it work. You’re less likely to back out or give up on something you know you’ve put a lot into, and you’ll probably want to see it through.
Preparation relieves anxiety. I don’t know about you, but whenever I have something big and important on the horizon – an event, a training evolution at work, or loading up for a night behind the sights – I get a little nervous. Those nerves are derived from the unknown. Everything in the future is a big, cloudy mess, and preparation helps control a few parts of that uncertainty. By preparing and practicing your abilities, you have a better gauge on where you stand, what you need to change, and how you can move forward.
On my side of the house (Navy), we’re fond of saying, “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.” So if that means getting extra sleep before a patrol so you don’t zone out and step on unexploded ordinance, go ahead and do it, chuckle head.
For me, preparation makes a significant difference, and it puts me at greater ease before getting after anything important. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve walked away from training events feeling like an absolute piece of shit. You might know what I’m talking about—that feeling of regret, knowing that you kinda sucked at whatever you just did because you weren’t really ready for it. That’s not me. And I’m sure it isn’t most of you reading this. So I have fixed that epic screw-up. When I step into a situation, no matter what, I’ve broken it down mentally, and I am ready to wreck that monkey six different ways.
Being prepared in its fullest sense allows you to overcome that feeling of guilt and regret you might feel after something goes not as well as you hoped. Why would you go into something knowing you’re going to half-ass it in the first place? Then don’t waste your damn time doing it. I still love my share of spontaneous things. I enjoy the thrill of unplanned adventures with friends and living life on the edge, but there are certain things I truly believe you should not “just wing.” Oh, like packing a parachute, mission planning, cleaning a weapon, honing medical skills, or even running a soul-crushing GORUCK event. These things require extensive preparation to produce the best outcome. And at times, people’s lives depend on me preparing properly and being focused.
Your ability to make a good decision rests on your level of preparedness. Even if you think preparation reeks of rigidity and authority, I don’t think it has ever negatively effected an outcome. In any case, it makes you stronger, mentally and physically, for what’s coming your way.
So get out there, prepare, and get shit done.
On Time, On Target, Never Quit.