Prepare is a verb, an act of getting ready.

Preparing leads to a plan, and it converts actions to a noun, a document with next steps and responsibilities.

In both cases, when an unprepared scenario happens, the verb and noun become nearly useless.

The election results did not turn out as many pundits expected. Along with the pundits, many citizens did not expect the presidential result. Mindsets were fixed expecting a certain result, which did not happen. Questions and concerns arise, rightfully and but too late.

No different in businesses. The unprepared scenario happens. We may have extensive processes and plans in order, but we are still unprepared for what unfolds in any given day. Our current politics layers lessons to what preparing means.

The heart of preparation awakens.

Election as Example

With the election results, many react. We cannot change the result. The votes are in. We can protest. We can wonder why this happened. We can shut people off and disregard the causes of the outcome.

Our reactions vary. The Trump voters say “move on.” The Clinton voters question “how could this happen?” For those in the middle, disbelief seems bottomless but an empathetic curiosity to find out how this happened begins. Along with the digging in, the middle figures out how to listen more closely and get more involved in how to instigate a better change.

The danger: Our reactions bury us if we are not careful. The big risks are we lose our empathy and resiliency to find a better path forward.

Our reactions serve as a reminder for what good preparation means. We begin to understand that we need to add to the simple verb or noun. More than an addition, we undertake a significant shift.

The shift:

Preparing is putting in “proper conditions.”

Preparing: Proper Conditions

Knowing our bedrock values

A proper condition means we have bedrock values we fight for and keep no matter what. As this election started, many thought the outrageous things said would sink Trump. The candidates waited for the shoe to drop. Why not? It has been that way before.

When candidates say uncivil and out-of-bound derogatory things, their poll numbers usually fade fast. Within a short time, they drop out. Past experiences proved this, so it must happen again. However, it did not happen this election cycle.

The lessoned learned about preparation is knowing what values are non-negotiable. More than this fact, we cannot wait for an expected good wave to wash out the bad one. When our values are crossed, we need to stand up sooner rather than later. Standing up earlier when our values are crossed may mean we lose an election. If we do not stand up, we stand to lose a lot more.

We come to a simple question – Is winning all there is? A better question, in my opinion, is – What are we creating? Values matter.

Is winning all there is? A better question is – What are we creating?



Understanding our responsibility

Another proper condition is knowing our responsibility. We cannot abdicate it. In elections, voting is our responsibility. FiveThirtyEight highlights the results: “About 57 percent of eligible voters cast ballots this year, down from 58.6 percent in 2012 and 61.6 percent in 2008, which was the highest mark in 40 years.” Over 40 percent did not vote, letting responsibility slide.

Others voted a complete ballot except for a presidential candidate. In Michigan, for example, it seems about 90,000 did not select a presidential candidate while selecting other candidates on the ballot. The likely thinking? Leave it blank because no candidate was appealing. True or not, responsibility slid.

In our culture, finding a better way to engage responsibility seems central to thriving as a country, community, and organization. An important preparation condition is stepping up to our responsibility.

Spurring deeper action

Waiting is passive. Hoping something or someone just goes away is not a plan (see bedrock values above). We seem more inclined to pass on action. Another pitfall is doing a few surface activities and thinking we did enough.

Although we cannot do everything, we need to ensure we are doing something – especially when it comes to our bedrock values or the change we want to see. We cannot wish away a person or situation. Action is required. More specifically, our personal action is required.

Doing many things in a little way deteriorates having a bigger impact. What happens is multitasking and never making progress in areas of deeper interest. We need to get our hands dirty in making change happen. We cannot just act on the sidelines; we need to act on the field. We need to choose. What areas matter most to us, our community, and our country? Where there is alignment, we need to go deep and take actions to lead and facilitate this positive change.

Passivity seems to be the new activity. Instead, we need to shift into our active gears again.

Conditions Matter

Many lessons begin to appear as we think about this past election. Beyond the election, deciding what matters is essential. When we determine what matters most, we need to prepare the conditions to act on what matters most. We need to do so in a value-oriented, responsible, and active way.

For me, this election is a wake-up call to what our values are saying and what we are doing about it. I have many deep concerns about what this election tells us, but I don’t want to shut down or shut out people who may not agree with me. I want to re-center on what my values are, how my responsibilities match those values, and what I need to act upon in a more comprehensive way.

After all, preparing is more than an act of getting ready or having a fixed plan. Preparing is creating the proper conditions to act more fully in the change we desire.

What conditions are necessary to prepare more fully?


Action points:

  1. To prepare fully, define and set the proper conditions.
  2. Ensure the proper conditions incorporate your bedrock values while activating your responsibility and deeper actions.
  3. Proper conditions are essential for preparing in a more effective manner. Proper conditions are organizational culture just as it is personal leadership capabilities.
  4. Never sidestep acting upon the proper conditions in your preparations and activities.