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Leadership | There’s a simple one-word formula to avoid an ass-whuppin’

Prepare to Win … or get ready to get your butt kicked!

Many moons ago when my daughter was 3 years old, she really wanted a Barbie dollhouse for Christ

mas. She never played with Barbie dolls … never liked them much either … but she loved all the little people and things in that doll house. We found one and hid it in the attic to await Christmas Eve when we could sneak it under the Christmas tree.

My wife and I went up to the attic around 10 p.m. that evening and it was only then when I noticed the small print on the side of the large box … “less than 500 pieces.”

Assembly Required?

What? 500 pieces? To assemble? At this hour? Alas, yes … and man, was it painful to have to stay up until 3 a.m. putting it together. How’s that for preparation?

“It’s not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”~ Paul “Bear” Bryant

In our travels along the ROAD(blocks) to Success, we’ve seen how difficult it is to make the tough decision, why we struggle to keep stay focused on execution, and how difficult it is to sustain meaningful change. As if all that isn’t enough, there are still a few more barricades around the corner. Lack of preparation is one of them.

How many people have the will to lose?

How many of us have the will to lose? Few, I’d guess, maybe between zero and none. But the will to prepare? The determination to do the unrelenting hard work to prepare to win … maybe not a lot more … and yet that’s exactly where the rubber mallet hits the lobster claw.

Every Tuesday, we’re sharing valuable and practical leadership tips and tools to help you BE a better leader so you can BECOME a better leader. For the next several weeks, we’re going to identify the recurring themes that have become obstacles in the path of our success, and figure out how to dropkick them out of our way.

How do you spell NFL success? P.R.E.P.A.R.A.T.I.O.N.

I’ve written before about the Alabama football team and some of the leadership principles embodied by coach Lou Saban, and even about some of the more iconoclastic football ideasfostered by David Romer, a Cal economist. But what could be a greater example of the power of preparation than the professional game of football?

Think about it for a minute. Preparation begins with a robust coaching staff, including a Head Coach and from 17 Assistant Coaches (SF 49ers) to 19 assistants (Oakland Raiders). There are full-time coaching positions for Offensive Coordinator, Special Teams, Linebackers, Tight Ends, the Passing Game, Secondary, Offensive Quality Control, Wide Receivers, Running Backs, Offensive Line, Assistant Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks, Strength and Conditioning …. Whew.

How much will you do to be on top of your game for 2 hours of playing time?

The season starts with 80 players in training camp (it may grow to 90 this year), and ends up with 45 players on the active roster during games, so that only 25 percent of them are on the field at any one time. There’s about one month of training camp, five weeks during the exhibition season, then 17 weeks of football with 16 games before the playoffs. In all, a 6-month season with practice almost every day.

For what again? Since a typical NFL football game averages less than 12 minutes of actual playing time, that’s only about six minutes for a player playing on every down on his side of the ball … for 20 total games or about two hours maximum playing time per person for the entire season.

Would you spend time learning an 800 page playbook?

Oh, did I forget to mention that some of the playbooks that the players must learn run to 800 pages?

ick Vermeil, the legendary Eagles coach some 30 years ago had a playbook of 700 pages.

Here’s what he said about it:

“You show it to an everyday person … and they can’t get over it,” he said. “They just couldn’t envision what was going into NFL preparation.”

There’s no substitute for Preparation

All of this? It’s Preparation with a capital P … and it probably should be written PREPARATION.

Sure, you can say that the NFL teams can afford all of this and I can’t. How can I afford that kind of preparation … read training or education … in my business?

Maybe you can’t do it all, but it’s pretty clear that exceptional performance requires a substantial commitment to the training and education processes you embed in your business.

Remember … you won’t BECOME a better leader until you start BEING a better leader … implementing NOW the changes necessary to adopt the proven strategies of successful leaders. Start by building on the communication matrix and making sure you’re defending the castle to get done what only you can do. Make sure to take some time so you’re thinking past today. Read our 12 part Leadership series.

Check out the Container video to learn about their training regimen

Take a moment to view a short, three-minute video about The Container Store and its focus on an employee-centric culture rooted in a training program more than 30 times greater than the industry average.

Their success, even during the Great Recession, has been exemplified by their dedication to employees and their training regimen.

Do you hold your nose when you hear the word Training?

Some of you probably want to hold your nose when you hear the word training, but you couldn’t be more mistaken.

Training may not be the sexiest term, but when you think of it as education and learning … and equates to Preparation, one of the key differentiators among the most successful companies.

Instill the will to prepare in your organization

How much time do you devote to training, education, mentoring and lifelong learning for all of your players? Do you have enough coaches and mentors? Is one of them assigned to every employee? Do you use a detailed playbook or is everyone running their own plays from the seat of their pants?

It may work on the sandlot but in business? Not so much.

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