Archive for the ‘Preparedness’ Category

Doomsday PreppersThe lesson below is a guest post from my friend, Carla Puckett. She suggested the topic to me recently, but I thought it would be best if she shared her experience directly with my readers. Thanks, Carla, for an excellent lesson! Be sure to check out Carla’s blog at That’s What I’m Thinking.

I hate reality shows. But I watched “Doomsday Preppers” the other night after mistakingly DVRing it instead of a show on the Food Network. I watched the entire episode out of curiosity, and I’m glad I did because I learned something.

The show was about people who believe some mega catastrophe is going to occur – a natural disaster, collapse of the U.S economy, nuclear war, etc. – all of which they believe will lead to civil unrest and martial law – and they are planning and preparing for it by amassing enough food, ammo and other supplies to last them and their families for years. To say that the people on this show were obsessed with their “prepping” doesn’t even come close; all said they spend the majority of a 24-hour day prepping.

I’m all for planning and preparing; as a security consultant, it’s the main part of what I do. I tell people, churches, and other organizations how to plan and prepare for emergencies. I’m sure the people up in the northeast wished someone had taught them the need to plan and prepare for a disaster like Sandy, but I digress. What I teach and tell is not rocket science – it’s common sense. For example, here’s a security and safety tip for you, free of charge: take time to put together an emergency kit for you and the members of your household. Have enough food and water for you all for at least 3 days, and have any needed medications, a first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlights with extra batteries, and did I mention water? Make copies of insurance policies and other important documents and keep them in your kit as well. Also add in an extra set of clothes, and some blankets, and don’t forget food for pets. Keep all of these items together in backpacks or a plastic storage bin. You get the picture.

It’s OK to plan and prepare – the Bible tells us repeatedly that we need to. But it’s not OK to become so obsessed with planning and preparing for the future that you don’t have time for today.

Leap year lesson #336: Plan and prepare, but don’t forget the present.

I went running today with a purpose for the first time in years. It has been three years since I ran in a race. From my mid-40s to my early 50s I ran a number of races, mostly 5k races and a few half marathons. I was involved in college ministry at the time through my church and several of the college guys and I would commit to various races, training together and enjoying the challenge, the trips and the competition. I was the old guy – Ol’ Blue – among the college crowd just like in the movie Old School. I loved every minute of it.

Since my team of four at work decided yesterday to run in the Muddy Fanatic race on May 19, I decided I’d better start training today. Oh, my, do I have work to do!

I couldn’t begin to make it the whole route of a little over 3.5 miles without way too many 30-second walk breaks. My legs will yell at me tomorrow, no doubt. My time was atrocious compared to my last 5k race.

So what do I take away from today’s run? Does my performance mean that I should hang it up because I’m not good at that any more? Should I expect to suddenly run at a pace that I ran at years ago even though I have not trained? The answer to both questions is “no.”

Previous success does not guarantee future success at any task, especially if you fail to practice and keep your skills up to date. I knew I would have a terrible average pace per mile today, but that’s OK. Today is the benchmark. Running is always primarily a race against yourself and your best times more than it is against others – at least for me it is.

So here’s to whatever May 19 brings and the fact that my performance then will be better because of the training I put myself through over the next 5-6 weeks. Running races years ago isn’t what will make May 19 a success. It’s what I do between now and then to prepare that will make the difference.

Leap year lesson #95 is Past success does not guarantee future success.

As someone who has spoken in public countless times, I would not think of stepping up in front of a group without going through my prepared remarks or presentation several times in advance. Similarly, when I travel to a new city for the first time and choose to drive myself rather than take a cab, I usually scout out the route and parking options of my destination ahead of time.

Why? In the case of public speaking, it helps me to do my best for those I am there to serve. It allows me to rely as little as possible on notes, and to concentrate more on the content, the delivery and the people. In the case of scouting out a travel destination, it puts my mind at ease so that my focus can be on other matters when I actually reach my destination. The travel rehearsal isn’t always an option or practical, but I still do it when possible.

Having just completed the South by Southwest Interactive (SxSW) conference in Austin, TX, I can say that even though it had its share of frustrations due to size, geographical spread of venues, bad weather and transportation issues, I really hope to return. The content and variety of the sessions are incredible – second to no other conference I have ever attended. Once the weather improved and it was pleasant to walk around, I had the option to explore more and get a feel for the lay of the land. I know more about what to do and not do next time, where to stay and not stay, how to navigate between venues, what to bring and not bring, etc.

So this past week has been a SxSW rehearsal for me. I did some things just fine and flubbed others like a newbie is likely to do. But now I’m a lot better prepared for future years and I hope to take part in them for many years to come.

If you feel a bit uneasy the first time you do something, that’s normal. You’ll be experienced and equipped to do better next time.

Leap year lesson #73 is Rehearse, practice and train for the next time.

Wednesday evening I had to take a quiz to complete a professional training course series. Following the final session held last week, we were given until midnight Wednesday to complete the quiz. I spent a couple of hours reviewing the final four sessions that I expected the quiz to cover. When I began the quiz, however, the first full page of questions was more along the lines of evaluating the course. For a few glorious moments I thought that maybe the course organizers had given us a break and made the final “quiz” really just a course evaluation.

Then I got to screen two…

As originally expected, I then had a series of questions about each of the final four class sessions. I began to worry a little bit, though, not knowing how much time the questions would take. The rather thorough course review questions asked up front took way more time than I had expected or allowed for on the clock.

Finally, I submitted the quiz 27 minutes before the deadline. I sighed with relief and went on to my next task.

In a span of a few minutes I went from the expectant hope of an easy quiz (course evaluation only) to wondering if I’d complete it on time. What made it easier, though, was being prepared for the content of the quiz through adequate focus on the subject during the original sessions and then spending time to refresh my memory again before the quiz. I’m confident I passed.

In general, I don’t like surprises – at least unpleasant ones. Had I not paid attention during the original sessions or had I not reviewed again before the quiz, the outcome might be very different. In the end, I was the one in control of whether or not I would be surprised by the questions. The more I knew the subject, the less surprised I would be. That’s the way it is with other matters of daily life as well – in our work, our hobbies, our communication with others, etc. We can minimize the number of unpleasant surprises that come our way by being better prepared ourselves.

Leap year lesson #53 is Be prepared and minimize unpleasant surprises.