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  • Writer's pictureOperations Rx

Prepare to Win

By Mark Inge

Alabama legend, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said, “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

What Coach Bryant was referring to was putting in quality time preparing for the contest. Having played college football, I understand the hard work that goes into getting ready for the game on Saturday. Fans only see the 3-hours in the stadium or on tv, but it wasn’t uncommon for our team to spend 60-80 hours per week in preparation of the contest.

Endless hours of weight lifting, film studies, individual / team walk-throughs, and practices in order to have us ready for what obstacles the opponent may present. This preparation would allow our reaction to opponent strategy to be instinctual, rather than requiring thought that would slow our performance. This was repeated every week in order to ensure fluidity and to remain mentally sharp.

The same holds true in business. Simply showing up at work and going through the motions is not enough to be successful. Paul Fitts and Michael Posner, famed psychologists and experts in the area of performance improvement, argue that people stop improving because they stop preparing.

They’ve discovered that most of us pass through three distinct stages when acquiring a skill, a behavior, or an attitude (the three core ingredients of performance).

• First stage: Practice – it is here that we consciously focus on getting better. When we improve, we then move into the second stage.

• Second stage: On the job improvements. That is, learning by simply doing, not thinking. During this second stage, we concentrate less, as we’re actually getting better at carrying out a task. Then comes the third stage.

• Third stage: Auto-pilot kicks in. Instead of improving, we just do.

At this point, we feel we’re as good as we need to be and stop practicing and preparing. The trouble is, we’re not as good as we need to be, or can be. Success largely comes down to putting in time and effort so that when an opportunity arises, we’re ready to give it our best. You must prepare yourself for the challenges that are going to come in life and business. By rehearsing your plan and being flexible to the environment, you can reduce the risk of defeat and enjoy more victories.

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