"Amat Victoria Curam", I first saw this phrase in the movie 'The Mechanic' starring Jason Statham (highly recommended). In Latin it means "Victory Loves Preparation". Those words serve as a reminder for us to take a step back and consider what we ultimately want to achieve in our business and lives each day. Many people mistake advice to take action as an excuse to become completely reactive to all of the daily demands on their attention. Simply taking action today could result in meaningful progress towards completing a project, landing that new client, or, without a plan, more likely will result in furthering someone else's strategic objectives or scrolling through more articles on LinkedIn. Those are all forms of taking action. If you run your business this way or manage a team this way, how can you reasonably expect to accomplish what you want?
I am not advocating that you sit idly until your subconscious provides a miraculous solution to all of your problems... Procrastination is a huge problem for most of us. Taking a small step in one direction, any direction, is the best thing we can do to achieve anything. But today, let's highlight one of the most marginalized yet important steps to success; preparation.
Imagine leading an army of one thousand soldiers without first providing clear instructions on the strategy or method by which to attack the enemy. One day in camp you mount your horse, turn to the soldiers and, with sword or musket held high, shout "Attack!" or "Take Action Men!". What do you suppose would happen after that? My guess is that one quarter of the soldiers begin shouting and running, eager to please you, their commander. Another quarter stands still with looks of befuddlement while stating "But, I thought the attack was next week? There must be some mistake!". The third quarter of soldiers might run after the first group, shouting "Wrong way you idiots! The enemy is in the other direction!". But as you watch all of this unfold, it is the final quarter of the army that frustrates you the most. Two-hundred and fifty soldiers that have done nothing. They continue going about their business as if you had said nothing and no commands were given. Afterall, they have seen this exact scenario play out countless times before. The final group has chosen to disengage from this circus entirely! And can you blame them?
If you have been part of this kind of disorganization within your own company or other team environment, which group do you most closely associate with? Teams of people can easily forgive a lack of planning once and awhile. Make it a habit or standard way of doing business though and your best talent will wise up to how their skills and time continue to be squandered. They will disengage and ultimately separate from your cause.
It was Benjamin Franklin who said "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." So before taking action, plan to spend twice as much time planning and preparing. Then throughout your day, make sure you can see how the action you are taking contributes to that plan.