The Myth of Readiness

[fbls] It’s that time of year: New Years. On one hand, it’s filled with excitement as we set out our goals for the year (please tell me you’re setting goals and NOT resolutions). If you’re like most people, you’ll start strong. You’ll be filled with renewed energy and resolve to finally take the steps toward accomplishing that elusive goal.

  • You’re going to start that business.
  • You’re going to go for that promotion.
  • You’re going to start dating again.
  • You’re going to hire that new employee.
  • And so on…

But then something happens. “Reality” sets in and you begin to wonder if you’re really ready to take that next step. Then, you utter these words:

“I’m not sure if I’m ready yet.”

Maybe you say them out loud or, perhaps, they get locked into your brain where you put them on loop. Either way, those words lead to the single outcome of paralysis.

Let me give you a little insight: readiness in advance of an action is a myth. You can never be fully ready.

Was I ready to be a husband? No. Was I ready to be a father? No. Was I ready to be a business owner? No.

But that’s not very helpful, is it? So let’s look at one more. Is a soldier ready for battle after going through bootcamp? No. You see, the goal of the military commanders is not to make soldiers ready for battle, it’s to prepare them to perform in battle. Please don’t miss this: you are never ready for something until after you’ve already experienced it. Instead, the best you can hope for is to be prepared for the experience. I’ve spoken with people who have served in the military and they’ve confirmed that they were never ready for live battle until after they had actually experienced it.

Readiness is a myth. As long as you hold it as the benchmark for how you must feel before taking action, you will never take action because you will never feel ready until after you’ve experienced the very thing you have yet to actually do.

Back to my examples. I wasn’t ready to be a husband but I’ve been married for 12 years now and I never question whether I feel ready anymore. I wasn’t ready to be a father but I’ve been one for all of three weeks and I feel ready now. I wasn’t ready to start a business four years ago but readiness never crosses my mind. They only thing that changed was that I actually did what it was that I felt I wasn’t ready to do.

And this is my encouragement to you: don’t wait until you’re ready because you’ll never feel ready until after you’ve already done it. Instead, focus on preparation and, when you are prepared, take action.

Is there one area in your life that you’ve been waiting for readiness when you should be looking for preparedness?

Photo courtesy of the United State Marine Corp.

About the Author

  • I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at it from this angle before. The problem with ‘getting ready’ in my opinion is assumptions. We assume THIS will happen or THAT will happen. The reality is we don’t know what will happen until we take action and experience it as you said. Those assumptions can lead to fear which will always lead to paralysis and eventually we’ll let that goal or dream die. 

    So many people confuse being “ready” with being “prepared”. Personally, I’d rather be prepared than ready. Every successful person I know has developed the habit of taking action despite not knowing all of the answers or being ‘ready’. 

    Wicked post my friend!

    • Thank you so much, John! I’ve heard this probably 10 times on coaching calls in the last week or so. I figured it was time to bring it to the blog. 🙂

      I’m with you, I’d rather be prepared than ready.

  • Travis,
      Great timing for this post.  Many of us (and certainly me at times) spend much energy getting ready to get ready or what I call planning to plan and never really executing. I’m going to direct others to this post – being prepared before you take action is smart, being ready will never happen without action – you said it perfectly!

    • Thanks, Phyllis! I love it: “planning to plan” made me smile. It’s so true that people do exactly that. Thanks for the comment!

  • Kaari

    Readiness versus preparedness, love it! The motto I grew up with (from my dad’s military service) is Semper Paratus: Always Prepared. Can’t say I’ve been completely faithful to the idea, but it guides me. And the new thing I say to myself (and sometimes others) is Do It Anyway. I’ve had some incredible things happen when I went for something I didn’t think I was ready for. I guess I was prepared, even when I wasn’t ready.

    Thanks Travis!

    • Thanks, Kaari! I love those mottoes. And you’re right – incredible things happen when we go for it!

  • A much needed reminder – thanks Travis! I’m doing my first webinar this month and I’m really not ready for that, hah. I’ve been assured by people like yourself though that I’m in the right place if I feel like that ;).

    • Thanks, Deacon! Congrats on doing your first webinar this month! That’s huge and I know you’re going to kill it! And when you’re done…you’ll finally be ready and will want to do it again! 🙂

  • Hmmm.. great timing on this one. Exactly what we were just talking about. Instead of waiting and getting prepared time to start taking action. 

    • LOL! I’m clairvoyant – I think. Glad it’s all clicking right now! 🙂

  • Interesting.. it never occurred to me that people would/ do take things on that they aren’t ready for.  Or rather, I suppose I know it, but not worded thus, simply.  I wonder what is in our personal or social conscious that inclines us to over-aspire? Instead, shouldn’t we think.. what are we ready and prepared to take on?  What is reasonable?  Otherwise we set ourselves up for failure, which reinforces not taking action.

    As with the coaching call the other day.. which, thankyouverymuch,btw– I waited until I was ready, and even pre-checked to see what I might need to do to prep anything in advance…

    I suppose the power questin for people should be- what do I need to do to be ready…?  what needs to happen, and make the plan:)  I suppose that is what preparing is about… getting a plan:)

    Are we culturally losing the ability, or DE-educating the ability, to perform that critical thinking?  that’s downright SCARY.. as, the 1% know.. uninformed/uneducated/non-thinking people are ever so much easier to manipulate!

    thanks for sharing your insights

    Teri

  • Thomas

    Thanks for the tips – I can use this for my jobhunting activities

  • So True! You really are never ready for something until after it happens, because it is usually a completely new experience…how can you be ready for something you know nothing about?!

    I will say, however, get ready for middle school…it will be here before you know it!  🙂

    • LOL! He’s already in middle school (adoption). We went from 0 to pre-teen overnight. 🙂

  • Rosvita at TEXTWinders

    Good post, Travis! Congratulations on welcoming new family members. That’s awesome.

  • There is SO much truth in this. I often talk about the “ready, aim, fire” premise. Some people (and yes, sometimes that’s me!) love do this…. “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim…” and never pull the trigger. 

    You can look at that target all you want, but you’ll never hit it if you don’t pull the trigger. We often don’t see that until much later because we let fear get in our viewfinder. 

    Great advice, friend! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you so much, Laura! You’re so right – you have to pull the trigger. 🙂 It’s also amazing how much we tend to kick ourselves for waiting so long once we’ve done something and then look back at it through the viewfinder. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Laura! You’re so right – you have to pull the trigger. 🙂 It’s also amazing how much we tend to kick ourselves for waiting so long once we’ve done something and then look back at it through the viewfinder. 🙂

  • There is SO much truth in this. I often talk about the “ready, aim, fire” premise. Some people (and yes, sometimes that’s me!) love do this…. “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim…” and never pull the trigger. 

    You can look at that target all you want, but you’ll never hit it if you don’t pull the trigger. We often don’t see that until much later because we let fear get in our viewfinder. 

    Great advice, friend! Thanks for sharing!

  • Harvey Gardner

    Great article, Travis!  Doing nothing has at least a 50% chance of being the wrong decision.  Better to get started; the worst you can do is end up where you are.

  • Yep…that’s some of the best advice I’ve had in awhile! Thanks man!

  • Nate

    Travis,

    Thanks for mentioning the Soldiers in your post. I am an Army Officer at Fort Campbell, KY and I surely remember departing for Boot camp back in 2002. I had no idea what to expect but I took a risk and do not regret the experiences I have had. Fortunately, I have had better experiences than some of my counterparts but your post makes a lot of sense.

    You will not now what you are capable of unless you take some risks. I am an elite athlete and if anything has taught me about risk-taking, it has been the marathon. Like you said, Prepare, than take action. This is vital. 

    I appreciate your comments and again, thanks for mentioning our Troops. Our serviceman and women are under some unexplainable hardships. I only hope, in time, our politicians and those we’re fighting against, will realize that military action is not the answer to our world’s problems.

    Thanks,
    Nate
    http://www.rundreamachieve.com

  • Nate

    Travis,

    Thanks for mentioning the Soldiers in your post. I am an Army Officer at Fort Campbell, KY and I surely remember departing for Boot camp back in 2002. I had no idea what to expect but I took a risk and do not regret the experiences I have had. Fortunately, I have had better experiences than some of my counterparts but your post makes a lot of sense.

    You will not now what you are capable of unless you take some risks. I am an elite athlete and if anything has taught me about risk-taking, it has been the marathon. Like you said, Prepare, than take action. This is vital. 

    I appreciate your comments and again, thanks for mentioning our Troops. Our serviceman and women are under some unexplainable hardships. I only hope, in time, our politicians and those we’re fighting against, will realize that military action is not the answer to our world’s problems.

    Thanks,
    Nate
    http://www.rundreamachieve.com

  • Nate

    Travis,

    Thanks for mentioning the Soldiers in your post. I am an Army Officer at Fort Campbell, KY and I surely remember departing for Boot camp back in 2002. I had no idea what to expect but I took a risk and do not regret the experiences I have had. Fortunately, I have had better experiences than some of my counterparts but your post makes a lot of sense.

    You will not now what you are capable of unless you take some risks. I am an elite athlete and if anything has taught me about risk-taking, it has been the marathon. Like you said, Prepare, than take action. This is vital. 

    I appreciate your comments and again, thanks for mentioning our Troops. Our serviceman and women are under some unexplainable hardships. I only hope, in time, our politicians and those we’re fighting against, will realize that military action is not the answer to our world’s problems.

    Thanks,
    Nate
    http://www.rundreamachieve.com

    • First, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. It’s people like you who allow people like me to do what we do.

      I love what you mentioned about not knowing what you’re capable of without taking risks. I think it’s our ability to prepare that allows us to take risks that then make us ready. Great insight and thanks for jumping in on this.

      Going to check out your site.

      Thank you,
      Travis

  • Nate

    Travis,

    My pleasure brother. I am honored to serve but my heart and passion lies within sports. I have been in the service now for ten years (as of 6 Feb 12), been an athlete for the past 20…hard to run from what we truly are and that being said, the the thought of working in a new career field where every day I could get up and help others do what I already love is quite intriguing to say the least.

    My father was in for 22 years, made it a career but see a lot of stress, a lot of frustrated people..hard sometimes.

    Thanks again for your post. I appreciate your insights and believe me, I want to work to get in a career field such as yours and use my military background to add to it (and possibly change a few lives in the process).

    Godspeed,
    Nate

  • nicole

    You are so right! I ran a marathon without feeling ready at all because I told myself I would never do it if I waited til I did. So I just train as best I could and take the plunge and completed the marathon with not so bad a timing. 🙂

  • Chrisnorkun

    I love it!  As a high school English teacher, we always tell our students to plan, to think, to prepare.  But, we don’t emphasize the value of taking the first step.  There is a certain level of safety we feel and a certain sense that things will just happen because we want them to or because we are good people. 
    Good post!
    Chris Norkun
    chrisnorkun.blogspot.com

  • I have never had the problem of being ready; the bank manager, however, does! He seems to be on a different time line?

  • Midnightpaw1313

    My mom brought up hindsight the other day, I told her “well
    how can you know that ( that being whatever you want it to be in this case) if
    you just, NOW, did it, that would make knowing it then impossible.” Or
    something to that effect.  I just jump in
    and do something’s after a point because I know I could plan all day and that’s
    just my way of putting it off. We can take comfort that in what we do others
    have done before and were also scared of it, so we can know that they overcame
    it so we can too. At least if I jump in, in some situations half baked, I know
    that I’ll come out ok, because at least I have the experience under my belt.
    Even if I have to do that “something” over again, it won’t be as bad the next
    time.