Over the years I’ve learned a lot from my dad.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from him, it’s that you must always be prepared.
Be prepared? For what?
Well, for anything and everything, really.
I never took this lesson very “seriously” — my dad’s always been one of those people that says something serious in a slightly sarcastic and joking tone. He’s constantly “testing” my brother and I to see if we’re sharp enough to pick up on whatever he wants us to see, and then he’ll just get really disappointed if we don’t figure it out. I always say that that it’s an unfair test because 1) we have no idea that we’re being “tested”, and 2) we don’t even know what the hell the “test” is.
Despite this incredibly frustrating and ironic model for learning that my dad developed for us as children, I think I finally understand what he’s been trying to tell us all of these years. You can’t succeed if you’re not ready to throw yourself in your entirety into making shit happen. It’s quite simple, really.
Preparation forces commitment: You know how people these days can be pretty flaky? Well, preparation helps to alleviate the chances of flakiness and indecision that comes with anything you’re faced with. It doesn’t matter if it’s a marathon, or an OCR.
Or you’re about to raid a house and crack some fucking skulls. If you prepare for it, you’ve invested in it — whether it’s with your time, money, or sweat and bullets, you’ve placed some tangible value into making it work. You’re less likely to back out or give up on something that you know you’ve put a lot into, and you’ll probably want to see it through.
Preparation relieves anxiety: I don’t know about you, but whenever I have something big, like an important event, a training evolution at work, or I’m loading up for a night behind the sights, I get a little nervous. A lot of it comes from the fact that you don’t know what’s going to happen, and that everything in the future is this big, cloudy mess. Well, preparation is probably the closest thing you have to “controlling” or “seeing” the future — by preparing and practicing your abilities, you have a better gauge on where you stand, what you need to change, and how you can move forward. On my side of the house (Navy) we are fond of saying “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat” You know more or less what you’ll do in a given situation, and how to deal with that when it happens. SO if that means getting extra sleep before a patrol so you don’t zone out and step on unexploded ordinance, go ahead and do it chuckle head.
For me, preparation makes a big difference, and it puts me at greater ease before doing anything important.
You know you put your best foot forward: I will be the first to admit that I’ve walked away from training events feeling like an absolute piece of shit. You might know what I’m talking about — that feeling of regret, knowing that you kinda sucked at whatever you just did because you weren’t really ready for it. That’s not me. And I’m sure it isn’t most of you reading this. So I have fixed that epic fuck up. When I step into a situation, no matter what, I’ve broken it down mentally and I am ready to fucking wreck that monkey six different ways. Being prepared in its fullest sense allows you to overcome that feeling of guilt and regret that you might feel after something goes not-as-well-as-you-hoped, because you know that you prepared as best as you could to put your best effort into whatever you’re doing. And why would you go into something knowing that you’re going to half-ass it in the first place? You may as well not even waste your damn time doing it.
Believe me, I still love my share of spontaneous things. I enjoy the thrill of unplanned adventures with friends and living life on the edge. But there are certain things that I truly believe you should not “just wing”. Oh, like packing a parachute, mission planning, cleaning my weapon, honing my medical skills or even running a soul crushing GORUCK event, etc. — these things will require relatively extensive preparation to produce the best outcome. And there’s the things that may not be quite as obvious: maintaining a relationship with your significant other (or anyone in general), or your happiness in life. These things all require putting in some kind of thought and effort before they come around. They require you to prepare in the sense that you must make decisions that will ultimately affect their outcome. Your ability to make a good decision rests on your level of preparedness — or how well you’ve set yourself up for this situation.
Even if you think preparation reeks of rigidity and authority, I don’t think it ever has a negative effect on outcomes. In any case, it makes you stronger, mentally and physically, for what’s about to happen.
So get out there, prepare, and get shit done.