Our lives are spent in preparation. We prepare for milestones like a new baby, a job, marriage, moving to a new home, or getting ready for college. Leaders prepare for meetings, presentations, and product launches. Being prepared is something everyone must pay attention to if we expect results. But what about those times when preparation eludes us?
Dealing with the Unexpected
This past Friday afternoon, my wife and I were enjoying our annual Christmas shopping trip to Lancaster County. Final purchases were being made when my cell phone rang. It was my wife’s youngest sister informing us that dad was dying and we should come quickly.
Nothing can prepare you for a call like that. While we knew that dad’s health was declining from his many years of battling Parkinson’s disease, we did not expect a sudden change that signaled death might be imminent. In a moment, plans were changed and we were navigating the highways and traffic to be at his bedside in central PA.
Fortunately, we arrived about an hour before his passing. It was special to sit with him and be supportive of mom and each other as he transitioned from this life to the next.
Leaders must be prepared for the unexpected.
Being prepared isn’t always about what is predictable. When the unexpected happens, preparation takes on a different meaning. We found ourselves making spontaneous decisions about travel and lodging. There was anxiety and stress as we wondered if we would arrive in time. Being present became more important than being prepared.
My father-in-law was prepared for his own death. He had prearranged his funeral. The memorial service was already planned. His gravestone and burial plot were chosen and paid for. His thoughtful preparations made things easier for the family.
Leaders who are prepared typically understand the value of controlling what they can and being flexible with everything else. I can attest to the many times when a facility wasn’t ready as promised or equipment didn’t work as intended.
Sometimes the most important role a leader plays as a “preparer” is telling the truth and managing the anxiety that change often brings. Most people don’t need definitive answers to their questions. What they want is a leader’s undivided attention and presence.
Are You Prepared?
This is the third time I have witnessed the death of a loved one. It is a sacred moment to accompany their souls to eternal rest. My father-in-law’s preparations will ensure his wishes are met. It was his final gift to the family.
What preparations do you need to make as a leader, both professionally and personally?
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