I’ll be honest. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy worrying about the details of the business, especially during the company’s early days. Do we have enough cash to cover expenses? Are clients happy with our service? Is that key team member content with the work he or she may be doing? Will consumers buy our products or take our campaigns viral?
It’s exhausting. And absolutely unproductive. Worst of all, it doesn’t breed confidence within a team or with clients. This kind of worry can actually lead to bigger issues down the road.
Fast forward a few years to when I came across a quote in the book of Proverbs. It completely changed my outlook. In the quote, King Solomon gives this advice: “The horses are prepared for battle but the victory belongs to the Lord.”
What does it mean? It means that while a job or responsibility is about preparation, the result of that preparation is not up to you. How people respond to your actions. How a customer or client responds. How the campaign turns out. None of this is in your control. All you can do is prepare and work diligently to put yourself in a position to succeed – and then let the outcome of the battle be what it will be.
The bigger question here, though, is what does it really mean to prepare?
- Understand expectations and work hard to make sure they are clear. This is especially true in service businesses. Defining a clear scope of work, communicating the desired result, being clear on the timeline and budget are all necessary. It may seem straightforward but this is one area that young staff has a difficult time with.
- Gain knowledge of the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out how people are feeling and what’s necessary. This is the power of research. It’s to help gather insight that gives you greater confidence in moving forward with specific courses of action. Insight always precludes good strategy. Whether you’re preparing a report, presentation, sales pitch or proposal, do your homework and never be afraid of asking questions. I’ve never had a prospect or client give me negative feedback when I’ve asked them clarifying questions or dug deeper to understand the situation more clearly.
- Have what it takes to do the job. Execution is having the right equipment, the right tools, the right people and the right actions ready to meet the job requirements. Oftentimes, knowing what to do and when comes with experience or by connecting with others who have been there before. This is the power of mentoring or of reading great books because the vast majority of situations you face are not new. Chances are, someone’s navigated those waters before. Don’t take on a project or situation without knowing you can accomplish or secure the resources needed. Foolish leaders say yes too fast.
When you take the time to prepare yourself and your team as much as you can beforehand, you’re positioned for success. The true outcome is not yours. Not only will this take a huge burden off your shoulders, it also puts you in a position where you are able to acknowledge the work that was done and celebrate the victory with those who deserve it.
Have a great week!