[May 12, 2017] This may seem rather obvious to most of us but getting a jump start on leader tasks is simply good, practical advice. Overlooked advice, I might add, is when leaders fail to take the time and effort to prepare themselves in advance when they have the chance to do so. Timely preparation gives the leader more time later to react to unforeseen circumstances or difficult problems later on.
My son once asked me about how I would handle a difficult situation he was having at work. As the lead architect on several large projects, he was required to ensure his team accomplished all their assigned tasks in a specified timeframe. Turns out that he waited until the last moment to consider what to do upon losing two of his team members; both had given notice to leave the company for employment elsewhere. He knew they were departing but waiting to act.
When he called me, I gave it to him straight … you screwed up, I said, by not jump starting the project with folks who would be around for the duration and then you waited to ask for a replacement until the last moment. Both of these may be forgivable in most places but not in the corporate world. Fortunately, they kept him as the team lead … obviously, a forgiving place to work. He did, however, learn his lesson.
I give advice to college students on a regular basis about how to do well in college and in any given course. The secret (not really a secret but that’s what I tell them) is to get the reading material ahead of time from the professor and beginning studying in advance of the course start date. Gee, what a novel concept to prepare one’s self in advance. The majority of them do not heed my advice.
I learned this as a Boy Scout Tenderfoot (the entry level rank and lowest of the low). In the mid-1960s, we went camping on Padre Island near Corpus Christi, Texas. I failed to read the Scoutmaster’s instructions or ask my dad about camping out. This was not my first overnight camping trip so perhaps I was overconfident but forgetting my sleeping bag was a major screw-up that caused considerable suffering of my part. The remainder of the scouting trip had me playing catch-up as I was tired from lack of sleep.
A little preparation for those known events makes all the difference. As a soldier in the U.S. Army, I remembered my times as a Boy Scout and their motto, “Be Prepared.” I try to always do this and while it may mean that I work while others play, I generally had less stress in my life and got more accomplished than most.
Get a jump start when you get the chance. You will never regret it.
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