Always Be Prepared!

In your career, in your business and in your life, you need to be prepared. I had this key lesson forced upon me once again recently. It was last summer, when my son and I went to an ISU Father-Son basketball camp. Coach Hoiberg was there with his team to teach us (and 100 other sweaty fans) to be better ball players. If you don’t know me well – I’m not a sporty guy. But I was looking forward to the pros teaching my son the right techniques. And we did learn a lot of great skills and had fun. But there was something I was not prepared for…


At the end of morning and afternoon drills, they split us into teams of eight to play scrimmages against each other. Each team was four dads + four sons. I wasn’t prepared for that little twist. Lucky for me, the other dads on my team were also out of shape and there to have fun with their boys. Unluckily, the other teams were very athletic and competitive. (Coach joked that the Cyclones weren’t giving scholarships that day, so dads should take it easy… But these guys were not listening.) The scrimmages alternated 4-minute periods of kids-against-kids, then dads-against-dads. It doesn’t sound like much, but those 4-minute stretches were awful. Definitely not for somebody who had softened up as I had. But I dug deep and gave it all I had… I can still hear my son cheering, “Go, Dad! Go, Neil!” Followed shortly by, “Are you OK, Dad? Can you get up?” Obviously, I survived the day. The sore muscles, bruises, and scrapes had faded away the following weekend. But the bonding and memories with my son live on.

“Chance favors the prepared mind” (and body)

The experience reinforced an important lesson for me (and now for you) -- Always be prepared. If the camp had been a year or two before -- when I was on my fitness kick -- I would have been ready for the exercise. My muscles and lungs would have been primed and eager to go. However, I’d become “too busy” and let my physical wellness take a backseat to everything else. I suffered for that lack of preparation and my body let me know just what it thought of that… …Each time I imagined myself as Jordan on a fast break, my body would drop me on the floor like the slug I’d become. I was writing checks my body wouldn’t cash.

Intelligent preparation…

Like our bodies, we need to keep our minds prepared as well. (Not much good preparing your body for a zombie apocalypse, if you’re not sharpening the mental saw as well.) The truly successful are those who can find and maintain a balance in all areas of their life. Earl Nightingale once told a story that provides a perfect metaphor… “One day, a man was watching a football game on television. His five-year-old son kept bothering him. So the man tore a page from the Sunday paper. It was a full-page airline ad that showed a picture of the world – the planet Earth as seen from space. “He tore the page into a dozen pieces and gave them to his son. He said, ‘Here, put this picture together with this tape, and show Daddy how smart you are.’ He then went back to watching his game. “In a surprisingly short time, the youngster had taped the picture back together. It wasn’t very neat, but it was a very good job indeed, for one so young. ‘Hey, that’s amazing!’ the father said. ‘How did you put that world together so quickly?’ “The little boy said, ‘There was a picture of a man on the other side. I just put the man together, and then the world was all together.’ “The youngster was no doubt surprised by the big, warm hug he got. ‘That’s right, son,’ the father said. ‘When the man is all together, his world is all together, too.’ “Being together is understanding how things work. Working hard won’t do it. That isn’t enough. We have to work intelligently.” – Excerpt from Lead the Field

Knowing where to look…

Great architects stays mentally prepared by researching new technologies and best practices. In today’s fast-paced world, you must prepare for each design challenge your clients bring to you. Be aware of the problems your clients face, and the opportunities and goals they are looking toward. Of course, it’s not possible to prepare for every question or dilemma. That’s why another aspect of preparation is knowing where to look. As Henry Ford famously said when he was accused of being ignorant, “Let me remind you that I have a row of electric buttons in my office. All I have to do is press one of them to call the person who can answer any question on any subject I wish to know, relative to the business at hand.” It’s OK to say you don’t know. As long as you quickly follow that with, “…but I’ll find out, and get right back to you.” And do just that.

Getting better and better… intelligently…

CMBA is so lucky to have amazing partnerships and strategic alliances with people and organizations who love our clients as much as we do. It’s through these relationships that we get better every day. It’s with these resources we get the answers to help our clients solve problems, or achieve their goals. As highlighted in the recent press release, CMBA has acquired Architects Smith Metzger in Des Moines. I’m proud to have a seat in the Des Moines office and to be part of the CMBA|Smith Metzger team. As I looked on from the sidelines during the process, it was evident that both firms were taking the intelligent, long-view approach. Both had their sights set on the opportunities the merger would achieve. But they did their due diligence to ensure it was a perfect fit for our firms and our clients. Business Record, also featured an inspiring article on the acquisition from Des Moines’ perspective. The media releases inform and assure that our firm’s leadership have made this transition intelligently. This blog post is to assure you that the rest of our firm is also excited for the future. We are prepared to better serve our current clients, as well as welcome and serve our new clients. To repeat Earl Nightingale’s words from above, “Being together is understanding how things work. Working hard won’t do it. That isn’t enough. We have to work intelligently.” If you enjoyed this post, please “Like” it on Facebook, and be sure to share CMBA’s big news with your network.

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