Preparing to win, means doing all you can do to achieve an optimal result. The decathlete, Dan O’brien asserts, “the will to succeed is nothing without the will to prepare. You cannot control the conduct, skills or the emotions of others, but you can control your preparation and behaviour. Self-confidence comes from the knowing that one has prepared for a challenge as methodically as he or she could, that one has done all he or she could do to be effective. Methodical preparation not only instills confidence in and makes you more effective, but it also provides you with a strong sense of satisfaction. The renowned paediatric surgeon, Ben Carson, declares, “I take great pleasure in preparation.” Preparing to win portions out into eight principles. They feature as defining the objectives, analysing precedents, alternative approaches and outcomes, and the interests of all parties involved, defining the timelines, forming the right team and scripting.
To understand your objectives enables you to accomplish what you set out to do. Also, understanding your objectives props you to give direction to your energy and motivation. A good way to start a task is by defining your objectives, what you want to accomplish and why you are doing it. The answers to the questions serve as the first step in the preparation process. Thus, preparing to win begins with a clear understanding of your objectives. This understanding boosts your motivation, performance and satisfaction. Performing the best work entails a clear understanding of its purpose. Clear objectives lead up to an effective program or strategy for actualising them. Aligning one’s objectives to fit his or her strengths enhances effectiveness. A worthy objective comes in the form of building a great company with one’s outstanding sales abilities and providing financial security for the family. By the aid of defining objectives, one gets others to collaborate and form effective, cohesive teams. Clear objectives like pushing up annual sales, improving customer satisfaction, complying with industry regulations, act as rallying points for a team, and also help them to build up a beneficial team spirit. The idea to define objectives maximises the productive use of time. Preparing to win embraces the concept of defining the objectives, slowing down to highlight the goals and the attendant purpose.
The benefits of exploring precedents, past efforts at solving a similar problem, or undertaking a comparable project often suits one to success. Precedents include common steps, shrewd or unexpected manoeuvres, effective adjustments and strategies. Planning with precedents equips you to forecast alternative outcomes to your potential approaches. In a situation where a competitor goes on the offensive with price slashes, one could look towards a precedent to develop a strategy. Probing the past to unearth situations where a price challenge was successfully warded off frequently reveals the importance of meeting promised delivery times. If your competitor is sloppy with delivery dates and if cutting prices is not on the cards for you, it pays to hinge your strategy on guaranteeing delivery dates as a vital part of your deal and allowing your pricing to remain unchanged. Your dedication to your strategy will keep your customers from straying away. The aim of using precedents is to identify workable steps and strategies employed effectively at similar projects or solving comparable problems. Furthermore, credible precedents provide a plausible logic for convincing others to tow the line of a particular strategic position. Lessons from biographies and history books handle as good precedents. By acquainting yourself with precedents supporting your position and that of the other party in a negotiation, it becomes easier to dovetail your objectives into theirs and nurture a win/win scenario.
Forecasting the potential or alternative approaches and outcomes, to a proposed undertaking guides you to structure an effective strategy. A strategy that draws in the most desired result. The approaches and outcomes range from the least desired to one that completely fulfils your goal. The steps to achieving the best result become clearer when we understand potential outcomes. When you hold in view your highest goal and the undesirable alternatives, together with that of the other party, in a negotiation, it becomes easier to set the right parameters to a most desired result. Forecasting alternatives makes sense in a situation where one is seeking for the right approach or outlet for expressing his or her passion and securing a measure of fulfilment. The right approach sanction fulfilment of one’s objectives. In writing a history of the civil rights movement in America, split into three parts: “Parting the Waters,” “Pillar of Fire” and “At Canaan’s Edge,” Taylor Branch settled for the objective of writing a story that is easy to understand. He also committed to the approach of using storytelling that portrayed real people and their struggles. He jettisoned the alternative approach of using analysis to write the story. The result spoke of highly readable books. Preparing to win syncs with the idea of setting objectives and committing to an approach, from among alternatives, that gears you to fulfil your objectives.
Understanding the interests of your audience, what really motivates them, features as a means of preparing to win. Your audience includes you, your boss, coworkers, and any other person interacting with you. Methodically probing your audience enriches you with relevant information that reveals their point of view, needs and objectives. For you to secure the good of preparing to win, determine your objectives and interests and those of your audience. The knowledge of the true interests of your audience guides you to address their most pressing needs, reduce anxiety on both sides, and focus on your objectives without being distracted by other’s emotions. Charlene Barshefsky, who was a United States Trade Representative with the rank of ambassador, played a major role in the negotiations that brought the Chinese into the World Trade Organisation. Her success hinged on her research into the individual interests of the Chinese delegation team and that of China as a whole. She dovetailed the United States position into those interests and changed the whole approach of the Chinese.
Successful people and organisations formulate and build up a strategy instead of rushing into one. Strategy is about preparing for what you do, not about executing an instant one-off action when one is faced with a challenge. Strategy is designed as the steps to achieving your objectives. The steps break into the setting of clear objectives, analysing precedents connected to similar challenges, defining your interests and those of the other side, and forecasting alternative approaches and outcomes. Success in meeting a challenge effectively, portrays strategy as a process, not a one-off event. Preparing to win connotes the anticipation of what can go wrong and doing as much as you can to prevent it. Designing an effective strategy often entails the breaking down of a complex challenge into smaller parts. Sometimes, this is accomplished by understanding and monitoring the innumerable moving parts in a company’s business model. Informed decisions are made through this process.
Preparing to win or to meet a challenge successfully frequently demands a careful mapping out of the strategic steps, to a timeline. A simple graph, list or chart, indicating key steps or milestones with their projected completion dates works well here. You draw in the psychological benefit of momentum when you complete one milestone and move to the next. From putting the deadline in your forefront, you get to cultivating a sense of challenge and motivation. This engenders team spirit and collaboration. In addition, a timeline helps you to recognise the logical or appropriate end point for a project. Acting on that awareness works to optimise resources. The idea of writing out a timeline for a project abets you to break down a complex task into smaller components or processes. Doing this enhances the chances of success. Codifying your milestones sequentially makes it easy to envision new steps or processes, and contingencies. Deviations from timelines are not necessarily failures but precedents to learn from. Timelines are road maps and organising tools, not measurements of success or failure. Proceeding step-by-step on your timeline, in a more or less timely manner, signifies a measure of success. For effectiveness, tap into the structure, collaboration and motivation, that timelines provide. Insisting that timelines run strictly to schedule often proves counterproductive.
Collaborating with talented colleagues to form teams, facilitates the exchange of ideas, critique and support. Preparing to win favours the allocation of responsibilities to your team members. A team broadens one’s knowledge base and vision. The awareness of the individual skills and talents of your team members enables you to match the skills and talents to the harmonious parts of your strategic plan. Success begins to come into view when we accomplish this task effectively. Team members bring new perspectives that promotes effectiveness. Putting the right people in the right roles sharpens the competitive edge of an organisation. It is easy to delegate to and learn from a team with passion and insight. A collaborative atmosphere facilitates the satisfaction of the needs of your customers and other stakeholders.
To rehearse the scenarios you expect by thinking through and writing down scripts for the expected events prepares you for the twists and turns of actual events. The practice also helps to improve one’s self-confidence. Although a script cannot address all possibilities, it helps to prepare you for most. To script with a colleague strengthens the potency of the process. Scripting can be applied to projects, public speaking, and other spheres of human endeavour. The idea of practicing with a script ratchets up your confidence to a level that enables you to present tough proposals without a stutter. Scripting what you want to communicate brings in a comfort level that permits you to express your stand on difficult issues. Scripting sums up your entire preparation. By the agency of scripting, you get more comfortable with asking, for it enables you to have in view the rationales behind your proposals, and the tentative response of your audience. Preparing to win, with scripting, secures to you the benefits of confidence and the agility to adapt to unforseen circumstances. Defining your own interests and those of your audience makes it easy to script in a manner that promotes a win/win scenario. Scripting can diversify into role-playing, where you get members of your team to play as your audience. Entertaining unexpected questions and demands from them and having them go at you with mock aggression and rudeness, are ways of getting yourself more prepared to win. Rehearsing a script and getting others to critique your performance brings a spontaneity that leads to success. Abraham Lincoln, a successful trial lawyer in his own right, was a strong advocate of scripting. He is credited with the following words: “in order to win in court, you need to know the other side’s case better than they do.” For good, scripting allows you to communicate your values, viewpoints and aspirations without going off track or allowing emotions to get in the way.
Mistakes and failures crop up from time to time, even when we adhere to the principles of preparation. Successful people accommodate mistakes and failures as precedents. They learn from them and use the lessons to fine tune their preparation. Preparing to win embraces the importance of learning from mistakes.