Friday, April 8, 2016

A Tale of Preparation and Failure

Here's a true story.  A number of years ago, I worked for a friend in a start-up business of his.  Just a few weeks into my work, I was driving the company truck and was pulled over for a missing mirror. Naturally, the officer asked for my license and the vehicle's proof of insurance.  I looked all through the glove compartment and the center console.  No insurance card. I called my friend (the owner, the boss) and asked where the insurnace card was.  What ensued, after five seconds of silence, was the confession that he had no insurance.  I was shocked.  What further ensued was a citation written to me, not the owner of the truck or the business.  I had to go to court, plead no contest and was given a hefty fine for driving without insurance.  I know, it's ridiculous, but that's the law - at least in the state of Oklahoma.

My boss did reimburse me for the fine, but it was only a couple more weeks before a paycheck bounced.  Once that paycheck bounced, I quit on the spot.  That's not how I operate and I have very little patience for that kind of ongoing irresponsibility.

He seemed surprised. But why would he be surprised?

A better question might be, why are you surprised when the people around you leave for greener pastures?  One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "The more you sweat in preparation, the less you bleed in battle."  Another great one is, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

Look, I'm not writing this from a place of perfection.  I've had my share of leadership failures that have caused frustration and even pain to those I lead.  But, can I tell you something?  If you're in any type of leadership position, your habitual lack of preparation and attention to detail is killing your team.  If you are putting your team at physical risk . . . if you are chronically missing meetings . . . if you regularly miss deadlines . . . if you're mismanaging finances, those high capacity people on your team will .  .  .   You know what?  Never mind.  You won't have to worry about them for long. Carry on.

Surprised?  Why would you be surprised?

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