Be Prepared

Tres RitosI hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend; full of either rest or excitement, depending on which of those you were hoping for. I spent mine camping in the Carson National Forest near Tres Ritos, New Mexico. From my campsite in a meadow next to a babbling brook, I had the most incredible view. I watched as thunderstorms moved across the mountains followed by mist rising up through the pine trees as the sun came back out. I had no internet or cell service, but it didn’t bother me at all. I had plenty to see and do in every direction.

I wasn’t alone, although I would have been just as happy. This was a scout camp out, and a chance for young men and women to test or acquire a number of skills in the great outdoors. Between the weather and the activity schedule, there were plenty of opportunities for them learn valuable lessons for the future.

The Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” We preach it from the time a young person first joins our troop. We do our best to model it for them and even end every meeting with those two words as a parting commitment to excellence. In fact, the entire scouting experience is really built around this principle. If one is prepared, one can succeed, at just about anything.

Before you strike a match to light a fire, you should be prepared with enough tinder, kindling, and fuel wood to maintain it. Otherwise, the flame will die and you’ll find yourself sitting in the cold. Before starting out on a hike, you should be prepared with proper attire, a defined route, and enough water for the journey. Otherwise, you may become lost, thirsty, or injured. Simply thinking through your activity or project before getting started can prepare you to tackle each step as it come up.

Launching a new product? The time to think about marketing, employee communication, and tracking mechanisms is before the technical development begins.

Bringing someone new onto the team? Think through the onboarding process (training, system setup, and physical resource needs) before their first day.

Heading into a meeting? Review the agenda, complete any assignments, and try to anticipate any questions that may come up regarding your area of responsibility.

When you make a habit out of being prepared, you not only become more organized, but you become more flexible as well. Having the known bases covered allows you the ability to more easily shift to handle the unanticipated. I planned for overnight temperatures in the mid 40’s, so I made sure to take along a good fleece jacket. I only wore it for an hour or so each morning and evening; but it became a second pillow at night, providing me with much more restful sleep. Being prepared allowed me to think creatively in the moment rather than bemoaning my lack of resources.

As always, we had a few scouts (and even some adults) who didn’t adequately prepare. Some didn’t have the proper clothing. Others didn’t bring a mess kit to eat form. But because so many others were prepared, we were able to step in and ensure an enjoyable weekend for all. The next time we go camping, everyone will have learned from this experience. Next time, even more will be prepared.