Preparation: Not Just for Olympians

The Olympic Games are creating memory flashbacks to my experiences as a high school and collegiate runner. Not that I was anywhere near good enough to have aspirations of competing at such an elite level!

One very vivid memory is my attempt at running a marathon.

In college I naively thought the idea of entering an event that most rational thinking people would consider a grueling challenge sounded like fun.

I would have done better if I’d remembered the key lesson from my days as a Boy Scout – Be Prepared.

Thomas Odom (a cross country and track teammate at Jacksonville State University) and I enthusiastically submitted our entry forms for Atlanta’s Peach Bowl Marathon.

The fact that we had never trained for any distance remotely close to a marathon’s 26.2 miles did not deter us. We were confident we were up to the challenge.

In spite of knowing we would be attempting to complete a tremendous undertaking, we made no adjustments to our regular training schedule. Big mistake!

Well into the race, I still had delusions of completing the full distance, but my mind and body were only playing tricks on me.

At the 20-mile mark, with my body screaming that this had to be the dumbest thing I had ever attempted, I collapsed in a painful heap.

It was the predictable result: failure accompanied by extreme pain.

But it was not a total loss. In the years since, my ill-fated marathon experience has served as a lasting reminder of the necessity of laying the appropriate groundwork for facing a difficult challenge.

As a nonprofit leader you are fully aware of the obstacles that must be overcome to successfully accomplish your mission. Your challenges may not require the same preparation as for Olympic athletes, but preparation is no less necessary to achieve your organization’s goals.

Do not fall short. Avoid the consequences that could come from not being prepared for your challenges. If anticipated demands are beyond your level of expertise or past experience, be willing to admit that reality, and commit to the preparation needed to achieve success.

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