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Get Ready. Be Ready. Stay Ready.

I talk with a lot of people who have big plans to accomplish even bigger things. Oftentimes the thing they are hoping for gets delayed, and discouragement sets in. When we get discouraged, we walk a little slower, plan a little less, stay in bed a little longer. We might even start to entertain thoughts like, “Why am I even doing this?” or “Maybe this isn’t for me.” If you have done the research and the heart work; you have analyzed the facts, the market and the strength of your team (even if that is Team YOU), here’s the motivational speech: Keep getting ready so that you can be ready and then stay ready.

Get Ready. This is the most counterintuitive thing, it seems, to do when we are discouraged. “Get ready for what?”, you might ask. Setbacks and discouragements come, but so do surprises and opportunities. We often spend more time preparing for the disappointment than we do for the opportunity. Get ready, even in discouragement, for what’s next. Get ready for the opportunity that will come: Design the logo. Create the mission statement. Do the research. Start walking the trail. Write the five-year plan. In getting ready for the opportunity that is coming, you keep yourself in readiness mode; the mode of a leader. If you are getting prepared for the coming opportunity you are looking forward. Yes, a backward glance might be necessary to avoid making the same mistake but incorporate solutions to past missteps into your plan so that you don’t keep looking back. When your ideal client presents him or herself to you, what will you say to them? Start writing and learning that speech now.

Be Ready. Opportunity comes predictably after hard work and preparation, but sometimes from a different direction than we expect. The aim of Getting Ready is to be ready for the opportunity no matter how it comes. Have you researched your market and the factors that have caused change around that market? When opportunity presents itself in a different form, are you equipped to succeed in the new form? Will your temperament allow you to adapt? When I started consulting in 2009, my clients were mostly women over 50 who didn’t see themselves as business owners or consultants; now I see a lot of millennials, and some men. The new clientele is already successful but want an emphasis on coaching. What would have happened if I did not adapt to the needs of a changing clientele? I would be doing something else. We must be ready for the opportunity as we see it, but we must also be ready to adapt to the changing nature of the business we thought we knew.

Stay Ready. Now that you have gotten where you want to be, it’s not time to rest on your laurels. We should always be learning, growing and asking questions. According to Inc., most CEOs read 4-5 books a month while the average American only reads one a year. Find authors and books that speak to your areas of expertise AND your areas of deficiency. Don’t think you have deficient areas? Ask your spouse, those you oversee and some of your peers to give feedback on your performance. As you build up places where you are challenged, you stay ready for the next place of opportunity.

Michele Aikens is CEO of Sepia Prime Communications & Coaching. She is an incurable optimist.

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