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Benjamin Drury - July 15, 2016

Preparation! The scouts are right!

How ready are you for opportunities when they arrive. How prepared are you to take an opportunity when it presents itself. Opportunities do not wait long. Are you ready for the ones that will come your way today, tomorrow, this week?

Opportunities come often, but just pass most people by before they’ve had a chance to take advantage. Those that do manage to take advantage are the people who are prepared. The people who expected opportunity and got themselves ready.

When I was a teenager, I was an athlete. A reasonably good one. One year I ran the high hurdles and made it to the county championships. The week before the final race, the weather was appalling and it rained the entire week. In those days I had to train on a grass track which was slippery, so I chose not to run any flights of hurdles that week, for fear of injury. The thing is, when race day came, I wasn’t prepared!

When the gun went, I set off from my blocks and by about 60 metres I had a lead. I was winning and I was moving away from the field. The race was mine, until I the final hurdle! With ten metres to go and an unassailable lead, as I rose to clear the final hurdle, my trailing leg dropped and I clipped the top of the hurdle. I went down with a clatter and lay on the track watching while everyone else disappeared past me and over the finish line. I got up and finished the race because I was determined, but what a missed opportunity!

Compare that to the following year, when I was competing in the 800 metres county final. This time the week before the race I prepared: I ran intervals; I ran distances; I ran 1000m after 1000m every day. I was super prepared. I wasn’t going to miss another opportunity.

As the race hit the bell, I was positioned at the front and another runner made his move with 350m to go. So I followed him and hung on his shoulder. At 200m to go I made my move, peeled round to the front and took off like a hare. I won that race by 50m. I was simply better prepared than anyone else!

The winning athlete is the one who is best prepared.

Or take Juan Manuel the brilliant Formula One racing driving, whose life was saved by being prepared.

Fangio exited the chicane before the blind Tabac corner in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix he stomped on the brake. It was a counterintuitive reaction for a racing driver exiting a corner — but one that likely saved his life. By slowing down he avoided plowing into a multi-car pile-up, which was just out of sight beyond the turn. In racing folklore, Fangio’s evasive action is considered a miracle. But why did he slow down?

The day before the race, Fangio had seen a photograph of a similar accident in 1936. As he approached Tabac, he noticed something about the crowd – an unusual color. Fangio realized that, instead of seeing their faces, he was seeing the backs of their heads. Something further down the road had to be attracting their attention. That made him recall the photograph. He was so well prepared that he managed to survive.

How prepared are you for your next opportunity?

I’ll leave you with a perfect quote from a speech given by President Roosevelt in Paris in 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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