Preparation: Where the Thrill of Leading Meets the Mundane of Planning by Dave Jochum In Business Solutions

Dave Jochum

Published: Feb. 9, 2015, 1:28 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 9, 2015, 1:28 p.m.

I’ve been a fan of football since I was a kid. I love to see these guys work hard on the field to make amazing plays in crucial moments of the game. We watch our favorite teams and get disgusted when they do not do well. We begin to second-guess the coaching staff, the general manager, and the owner. Surely, they have taken into consideration all of the important stuff we know. If not, someone needs to tell them!

The reality is that what we see on the field is truly only a smart part of the whole. The most important work takes place on the practice field and in the film study. Without the hours devoted to practicing their craft, most players would be useless on game day.

The truth is, in most anything we do in life, we have to prepare. There are steps we have to take to get from point A to point B. In many cases, those steps are so familiar to us, we take them granted. In our minds, we are just doing what we have to do. But in reality, without preparation, we would go nowhere. As an example, let’s say you are wanting to take a trip to one of my favorite destinations – Disney World. What do you need to do?

  • Decide you are going and who is going with you
  • Choose a date (and before choosing a date, you’ll want to check all of those nifty "crowd calendars” that people with more time than me manage to put together).
  • Decide on mode of travel
  • Count the financial costs
  • Secure someone to look after the house/pets while you’re gone
  • Plan for your trip to Orlando
  • Plan your days in the various parks – this can take more time than you think
  • Plan for your return trip

This list could be even more detailed, but you get the point. Preparation is critical.

Here is the concern for this article: Why do we, in our organizations, take planning and preparing so lightly at times? We talk about an event and throw it on the calendar. We then fail to discuss anything further about the event until it’s a week or two away. Then afterwards, if we evaluate it at all, we whine about how it wasn’t what we wanted it to be.

We do the same with goals. We set them at the beginning of the year and then don’t talk about them again until the end of the year only to realize we didn’t meet them. How sad.

So now that we’ve identified the problem, what is the solution?

First, I would say to do the hard thing and set aside the time with your team (or by yourself) to push through the dull and the mundane. Preparing and planning can seem daunting at first, but once you take the time to sit down and do it, you typically realize that it doesn’t take as long as you thought and the rewards are great.

Second, I would focus on just a few key components:

  1. The people involved. Who are they? What do they need in order to succeed?
  2. The purpose. Why are we doing this? What will be the benefit to the organization or team?
  3. The price. What will this cost us in both time and money?
  4. The product. What do we expect the end result to look like? What will have been accomplished when we are done?
  5. The process. What will it take to get there? What are the necessary steps to go from where we are to where we want to be?

Take some time and reflect on the last 3, 6, and 12 months of your life (or your organization or team). What went well? What didn’t go well? What would you do differently? Write these things down and make a plan to improve from where you are now. You may even want to set aside an entire day or at least a ½ day to do this.

I love what Roger Staubach, one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all-time had to say about this topic:

"Football teaches you hard work. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to have spectacular results in both business and football.”

It may not be exciting or glamorous, but preparation is the key to getting where you want to go. Go on. Don’t just sit there. Go prepare


I’ve been a fan of football since I was a kid. I love to see these guys work hard on the field to make amazing plays in crucial moments of the game. We watch our favorite teams and get disgusted when they do not do well. We begin to second-guess the coaching staff, the general manager, and the owner. Surely, they have taken into consideration all of the important stuff we know. If not, someone needs to tell them!

The reality is that what we see on the field is truly only a smart part of the whole. The most important work takes place on the practice field and in the film study. Without the hours devoted to practicing their craft, most players would be useless on game day.

The truth is, in most anything we do in life, we have to prepare. There are steps we have to take to get from point A to point B. In many cases, those steps are so familiar to us, we take them granted. In our minds, we are just doing what we have to do. But in reality, without preparation, we would go nowhere. As an example, let’s say you are wanting to take a trip to one of my favorite destinations – Disney World. What do you need to do?

  • Decide you are going and who is going with you
  • Choose a date (and before choosing a date, you’ll want to check all of those nifty "crowd calendars” that people with more time than me manage to put together).
  • Decide on mode of travel
  • Count the financial costs
  • Secure someone to look after the house/pets while you’re gone
  • Plan for your trip to Orlando
  • Plan your days in the various parks – this can take more time than you think
  • Plan for your return trip

This list could be even more detailed, but you get the point. Preparation is critical.

Here is the concern for this article: Why do we, in our organizations, take planning and preparing so lightly at times? We talk about an event and throw it on the calendar. We then fail to discuss anything further about the event until it’s a week or two away. Then afterwards, if we evaluate it at all, we whine about how it wasn’t what we wanted it to be.

We do the same with goals. We set them at the beginning of the year and then don’t talk about them again until the end of the year only to realize we didn’t meet them. How sad.

So now that we’ve identified the problem, what is the solution?

First, I would say to do the hard thing and set aside the time with your team (or by yourself) to push through the dull and the mundane. Preparing and planning can seem daunting at first, but once you take the time to sit down and do it, you typically realize that it doesn’t take as long as you thought and the rewards are great.

Second, I would focus on just a few key components:

  1. The people involved. Who are they? What do they need in order to succeed?
  2. The purpose. Why are we doing this? What will be the benefit to the organization or team?
  3. The price. What will this cost us in both time and money?
  4. The product. What do we expect the end result to look like? What will have been accomplished when we are done?
  5. The process. What will it take to get there? What are the necessary steps to go from where we are to where we want to be?

Take some time and reflect on the last 3, 6, and 12 months of your life (or your organization or team). What went well? What didn’t go well? What would you do differently? Write these things down and make a plan to improve from where you are now. You may even want to set aside an entire day or at least a ½ day to do this.

I love what Roger Staubach, one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all-time had to say about this topic:

"Football teaches you hard work. It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to have spectacular results in both business and football.”

It may not be exciting or glamorous, but preparation is the key to getting where you want to go. Go on. Don’t just sit there. Go prepare.