We were all shocked by the bombings in Boston this week‚ especially that an event which celebrates community and civic achievement could be so tragically disrupted by evil. The mindset of those who would so target innocent children and families is hard to comprehend. But in the midst of the chaos, the clear-headed actions of the first responders were also noteworthy; indeed, the lives and health of many were no doubt saved because the emergency crews had prepared for just such a possibility in the recent past.
Preparation. We have all heard how crucial it is to prepare ourselves for tasks we face, whether impending school exams, meetings at work, jury trials, or mock trial competitions. But how do we do that? What is required?
I would argue that three qualities are essential: commitment, relentlessness, and resilience. Let’s examine each in turn.
First, you must commit to putting in the effort necessary to succeed. As Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant observed, “It’s not the will to win that matters‚ everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Invest the time, the mental energy, and the hard work required to prepare for contingencies, and you’ll be able to face unexpected circumstances calmly.
Next, be relentless in your pursuit of excellence. When you face setbacks or temptations to “take it easy,” recognize that the easy way out won’t help you reach your goals. If the Boston first responders had just “dialed it in” when they practiced for emergency situations, the outcomes for many people during the bombings would have been far different.
Finally, be resilient as you face challenges you did not expect. Perhaps an unanticipated illness will require last-minute adjustments in roles, or a key piece of testimony will be kept out by an objection. Even if you try to prepare for all possibilities ahead of time, situations can arise that you would never have imagined. Just as the Boston first responders improvised by using wheelchairs to transport victims, so you may need to come up with new tactics or new questions “on the fly.” If you have prepared carefully beforehand, you will have the knowledge and the composure to adjust to new circumstances as they arise.
Whether facing an upcoming exam, or a skeptical coworker in a meeting, or a skilled opponent in a trial, preparation is crucial to achieving the outcome you desire. By committing to working hard, relentlessly pursuing excellence, and responding to unexpected events with resilience, you will develop the necessary character to face difficult situations with confidence.