Posts Tagged ‘Preparedness’

WellA couple of weeks ago I listened to several people discuss the topic of networking with others. The featured guest in the Google Hangout video chat was Stacy Zapar who happens to have the distinction of being the most connected woman on LinkedIn. She shared her experiences and insights regarding networking and is obviously very knowledgeable about the importance of it in the field of recruiting and talent management. You can view that one-hour video and review the archive of the accompanying Twitter chat here.

During the discussion, the focus was on how to build a personal and professional network in a way that is strategic, thoughtful, and leads toward helping accomplish goals and meet needs in the future as they arise. I didn’t realize until after the discussion that the title for the chat – “Dig a Well Before You’re Thirsty” – is based on a nearly identical book title by Harvey Mackay published in 1999. After some further exploration, it seems like a good investment of someone’s time to read that book, especially if you feel you could use some assistance in building a network for professional and career reasons.

Dig a Well Before You're ThirstySometimes, though, phrases jump out at us and immediately have application far beyond the original context. Such is the case with this book title. It’s true that I weekly pursue expanding my professional contacts in the field of enterprise social networking, especially through the weekly Twitter #ESNchat I host. But when I hear the phrase “Dig a well before you’re thirsty,” my mind immediately goes to other areas of life and the general advice to be prepared, to plan ahead, to not wait until the last moment to get things done, etc.

It reminds me that if I want, for example, to have a decent nest egg for retirement, I have to be contributing and investing wisely for many years before that elusive date. It means that if I have aspirations to accomplish larger goals in the future, I must be willing to lay the groundwork and put in place the stepping stones that are necessary now in order to reach those goals later.

Dig a well before you’re thirsty. That sounds to me like a phrase worth remembering and a philosophy worth living.

How would you apply it?

American IdolMy wife and I have enjoyed watching American Idol for years.  I missed the first season, but have been a big fan since then.  Now that we’re into the phase where America votes weekly on who remains, I thought it might be nice to reflect on some of the many lessons that can come from watching this show.  Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. People aren’t always as talented as they think they are.  The early episodes of every season are proof of this.  Some are just painful to hear.  William Hung, anyone?

2. Talent can be found in unexpected places.  I’m not talking geography here since people travel all over the country to these auditions.  I’m referring to the fact that a booming voice might come out of a soft-spoken, unkempt, homeless person nobody would ever suspect as a good singer.  File this one under “can’t judge a book by its cover.”

3. You need social skills in addition to talent.  The contestant who has a great voice but who can’t get along with others, also fails to connect with the voting public, and eventually loses.  It’s not just about you and your talent; it’s about living in the context of a community and relationships, and that’s a whole different ballgame.

4. Only the strong survive.  I feel for the singers who get matched up in group week with people they can’t relate to or with people who don’t want to do their fair share.  That week requires everyone to work hard – all night if needed, and those who slack off tend not to progress to the next round.

5. Never assume you’re safe.  How many singers through the years have been surprisingly eliminated early in the voting, most likely because people didn’t bother to vote for them since they considered them safe?  Assume nothing.

6. Your vote counts.  Or, more accurately this season, your 50 votes count.  If you don’t vote, don’t gripe about the results.  Do your duty and vote if you care about an outcome.

7. Not everyone who judges you is worthy of doing so.  While the four judges this year had sole authority to determine the top twenty, they may or may not have made the right calls.  They may not be representative of what America wants.  They may have hidden agendas and criteria we never hear about that impacts their decisions.  Do I personally really care about anything Nicki Minaj ever thinks or says?  No.  But she’s paid the big bucks to sit there looking dumb and sounding dumber, so whether she is worthy or not isn’t the point now.  Contestants will still be impacted by her comments for good or bad.

8. Give it your all.  When singers play it safe and just blend in with other so-so performances, that doesn’t cut it.  You need to give it your heart and soul and know that you left it all on the stage.  The final results may be in others’ hands, but you can at least know you did your best.  There is great satisfaction in that.

9. Always keep learning and improving.  Whatever your current skill level, there is room for improvement, so do what it takes to learn and grow and reach your goals.

10. Make friends along the way.  Nobody wants to be around others whom they fear would willingly stab them in the back to get ahead.  Don’t be such a person.  Be the one who takes the time to notice and befriend others as you go.  Praise the members of the band.

11. Climbing a ladder isn’t a lifestyle.  There is more to life than just trying to get somewhere else in the future.  It’s about experiencing the present, too.  You climb ladders for a short while so you can do something else at the end of that ladder.  Know when to step off the ladder and do other things.

12. It’s OK not to get the most votes.  If there are 10,000 people trying out and only one can win, does that mean 9,999 are losers?  No!  It just means that the system is set up to give a greater reward to one person.  Many contestants go on to very successful careers without winning the competition.  You get to define success in your life.  Don’t let others do that for you.

13. Fame and fortune comes at a cost.  Some have the personal character, wisdom and right people nearby to handle fame and fortune.  Some give in to its temptations and flame out early.  If you think you’ll be the one making all the calls about what happens with your life at the level of stardom these singers seek, you’re wrong.  There are trade-offs your dreams didn’t envision.

14. Enjoy the ride.  We know that some things can’t last forever.  That’s OK.  Be thankful that it happened as long as it did.

15. Give back.  You didn’t get where you are completely by yourself.  Parents, friends, teachers, even bitter enemies all worked to help shape you into the person you are, as did your own dogged determination.  Others are invested in you with their lives.  Give back to them.

I’m sure I’ve missed some obvious lessons that my fellow American Idol fans can think of.  What are they?  Tell me in a comment.

p.s. – If you haven’t figured it out by now, the lessons above don’t apply just to a singing competition.

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 had the unpleasant realization Saturday that I was already a day late in completing a quiz for a training class I’m halfway through.  Knowing there was no way I could get to it over my busy weekend, I asked for and received permission to complete it today.  That threw off the plans I had for my day off today which was to prepare and rehearse a presentation I’m giving tomorrow.  So much for casual weekends and lazy days off.

So my first order of business today was to review all the previous training sessions that were to be covered on the quiz, and then complete it.  With no thanks to excessive IT security restrictions on my work laptop, I finally (after three hours) had the material I needed to study.  Then I reviewed it and completed the quiz about 7:15 p.m.  Since I had attended all the sessions relevant to the quiz, paying attention and participating, I likely could have completed the quiz successfully without spending as much time prepping as I did.  However, I like to know beyond all doubt that I’m prepared for something.  I was.

After writing this post, I’ll turn to my planned task for the day of prepping and rehearsing a presentation I’m giving tomorrow night.  I’ve presented on the subject before, so it isn’t new material, but it will be organized in a different manner than I’ve presented before.  I always like to rehearse numerous times out loud before a public speaking engagement, so my evening and much of tomorrow will be given to doing so.  I want to know when I stand before those present tomorrow night that I am giving them my best.

When I think back to my January 4 post about my three words, the second word was “stretch” which means I want to do more than what is required of me.  That isn’t just to please others, but to live up to my own expectations and potential.  It can make for long days and hours doing things that I could probably get by with on less effort.  But I would know the difference even if others might not.

Leap year lesson #282 is It’s better to over-prepare.

Even though I was at home on vacation this week, I still had a full agenda of things I wanted to get done.  I didn’t get everything accomplished, but I got much of it done.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to schedule another “staycation” for next month and perhaps the next several months.

One thing I didn’t get done was adequately preparing for the class I teach at church on Sunday mornings.  Part of the reason was because I was giving priority to the out-of-the-ordinary tasks I wanted to accomplish for the week rather than the routine ones, and part of the reason was because the schedule for the end of the week went largely out the window when a family member was admitted to the hospital and we necessarily had to adjust our plans.

By late Saturday night, I had the choice of either staying up into the wee hours of the morning to adequately prep the class, or I had to make the call to have our small group (usually 3-4 people) attend another class instead for the day.  Since I only had about 3 hours sleep Friday night, I decided I shouldn’t do that again Saturday night, so I had my class join another one Sunday morning.  It was the right call.

Not only did the decision allow me to get a few needed hours of sleep, but it gave my tiny class (just me and one other guy today) the enjoyable experience of taking part in a much larger, excellent class that always has great teaching and discussion.  My one student met some new people who welcomed him with open arms and I think he enjoyed the experience.  We may, in fact, plan on doing that once every couple of months just for the different experience.

For me, it was a tough call to make because I didn’t want to feel like I was abandoning my responsibility.  In the end, though, it was good knowing that I could lean on someone else in a time of need and just be thankful for their help.

That brings me to leap year lesson #259: It’s OK to lean on others when needed.