"You are so lucky."
As a serial entrepreneur, this is a phrase I hear relentlessly. But luck isn't what got me where I am today. It's something far more practical and easily attainable: preparation.
In business and in life, the end result is not your burden to bear, but being prepared is. Perfection in the moments leading up to whatever decision you're making is your burden to bear. While the outcome may not be in your control, the actions you take leading up to that point are absolutely up to your discretion.
When you take the time and energy to prepare, you become ready for the unexpected. You become hyperfocused and are able to respond in a heightened state of functioning. This isn't simply the action to review a company website or study your college textbooks. Preparation is a way of life, a lifestyle skill set to build. Here's how.
1. Cultivate a work ethic to continually learn.
Preparation is nearly synonymous with learning. If you have a difficult or high stakes scenario approaching, invest time up front to learn as much as possible about the options, people, and potential outcomes involved. Do your homework ahead of time to allow you to actually step into greater opportunities.
Those who are willing to invest in their curiosity and the knowledge of the world can take on more opportunities in life. Take popular podcast host Joe Rogan, for example. This is a man who brings on guests from a vast array of life's experiences. He interviews artists, entertainers, scientists, and entrepreneurs, yet has deep knowledge about who they are and their respective industries. This isn't possible without intentional studying.
If you know you have a high-stakes business meeting where you will be negotiating a sale, study previous sales, other companies with similar opportunities, and even study people who have been in similar situations. How do they show up to the world? What outcomes occurred? Why did they fail or win?
If you have an interview for a new client, learn about the company, the hiring team, search on LinkedIn and social media to learn about your interviewers. Create this habit and you will be continually granted new opportunities.
2. Ask for help.
Connections are built through authentic conversations. And most conversations are sparked with a question or list of questions. It starts with identifying who to ask in the first place and then understanding what questions to use.
A rule of thumb I've shared before is, if you can do a Google search for the answer, it isn't a question worth asking. You must be willing to ask the bigger questions if you want to make bigger results.
Rely on the research you've done to find gaps in information or outcomes without known solutions. From here, you can navigate through questions that will give you the answers you need, which are often not the answers you want.
3. Read the forecast and anticipate the potential.
It's time to stop relying on talent and start leveraging preparation. "Winging it" can't be a phrase used in entrepreneurship. No matter how talented you may think you are, the reality is that talent is the force witnessed in the moment, while preparation is everything leading up to the win.
To weather the potential storm ahead, you need to read the forecast. Bake in a layer of anticipation for what could come in the future. Consider what can or could happen, and then gather the tools necessary to navigate those waters before they arrive.
I am constantly reminded of the saying that luck is when opportunity and preparation collide. But even more so, I've found opportunities present themselves the more you are prepared. Let go of luck, and pick up preparation.