Preparation Makes Up for a Lack of Talent

I was a Boy Scout. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” Being prepared has served me well in my life and career. Many years ago, when I was stressing over a training program I designed and was going to run for the first time. My boss said to me, “Bud, don’t worry. You’re prepared; and preparation makes up for a lack of talent.” I took that advice to heart. I’m usually over prepared.

I’m not a big soccer fan, but like many Americans, I watched the last three games of the Women’s World Cup tournament. If you watched, you know that Carli Lloyd was the big star in the final. She scored three goals in the win over Japan.

One of them was an amazing goal from mid field. When I saw it, I thought “that was lucky.” Only it turns out that luck had little to do with it. I was reading Sports Illustrated right after that win. The lead story began with an anecdote on how Lloyd’s personal coach, James Galanis, had her practice taking shots from mid field.

“That shot was always part of her arsenal,”Galanis said, “It was just a matter of picking the right moment to unleash it.” That moment came in the World Cup final. The Japanese goaltender was out of position so Lloyd took her shot. It went in. Amazing.

It seemed like a lucky goal, but after reading the SI story, I realized it was preparation. In Carli Lloyd’s case, preparation didn’t make up for a lack of talent. It added to her prodigious talent.

But the rest of us can take a lesson here. Preparation is an important key to your success. It involves practice and repetition.

Doreen Welsh is a friend of mine from high school. She was one of the flight attendants who was on the plane that landed in the Hudson River in 2009. She told me that while the situation was frightening, she and the rest of the crew knew what to do in this type of emergency – they had prepared for it in their training. The NTSB Principal Investigator, speaking of the crew said “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, no lives were lost.”

It’s unlikely that you will ever have the opportunity to play in a World Cup Final, or crew a commercial airliner. However, both stories illustrate the power of preparation.

Getting ready to do a presentation for the VP of Marketing? Prepare. Meeting a new customer for the first time? Prepare; learn everything you can about that customer and his or her business. Competing for a promotion? Prepare; go over your accomplishments and the reason you’re a good candidate. Anticipate interview questions you’re likely to get. Prepare answers to these questions and practice them – out loud.

The idea here is simple common sense. Successful people are prepared. This allows them to handle any situation they face. Spend time preparing and watch your career take off.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.


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