What Do You Need to be Ready?

We all practice being ready for our plans. For shopping, I make a list and decide in advance how I’ll pay. For travel, I plan when to make all the reservations and how I’ll get from one place to another. When I leave the house, I make sure to gather everything I need, especially now where we’re practicing “social distancing.” (It should be physical distancing. Oh well.)

I make all these plans so I’m ready. I don’t want to overspend at a store. I want to be on time for travel so I don’t get anxious about the trip. And, I want to gather my “tools” and maybe practice so I’m ready to really leave the house. I often create alternatives to how I accomplish the outcome, so especially for a high-risk or lengthy outcome, I can choose again.

Ready is a function of knowing the outcomes you want, the tools you need to get you there, and choices when one tool or path doesn’t work. The outcomes offer you the direction. The tools help you manage and assess risk. The choices help you create alternate paths.

Define the Outcomes or Results

Not everything is a project, but I do tend to frame many of my outcomes as a project. Here’s a trivial example: cooking dinner.

I make a list (not necessarily on paper for a weeknight dinner).  The outcome is “All food ready at the same time, hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold.” If you’re like me, that means you need to know when you want to eat, and which food is hot or cold. My tools are the ingredients and the various kitchen tools.

And, what happens if I don’t have an ingredient I thought I could use? I replan. I use an alternative path to achieve the outcome we want—dinner on time. I know the outcome. I know how to use all my tools. And, I’m comfortable enough with the tools I do have, to choose alternative ingredients when necessary.

Gather Your Tools & Practice

Each outcome requires different tools. And, each person might need their own tools. I have favorite knives, pots, and pans.

When I cook, I gather everything I need. (Sometimes, I don’t realize I haven’t gathered everything. That can change my choices.)

Every so often, I realize the knife or the pot doesn’t work exactly right. I might have a defective tool. (When our go-to knife broke, we had a little ceremony for it.) I might be trying to use the wrong tool for the job. I might need alternative tools.

And, sometimes, I need to practice a recipe a couple of times before I understand it. That practice requires I create alternatives.

Create Alternative Choices

For all but the most obvious outcomes, I need alternate choices. We have a lot of latitude about how we solve problems. (Given that we’re not going to do anything that violates the law, the regulation, or doesn’t lead to the desired outcome.) We can choose another path to achieve our goals.

If we start with the outcome we want, the tools and practice we need, and the possible alternatives, we can be Ready for what comes next. That’s what I want.

Dear adaptable leaders, that’s the question this week: What do you need to be ready?

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