Are You Ready? sign

The most common answer to “Are your ready?” is “Yes.”. For me that usually means I will be ready in just a minute. Recently, I was awakened to just how not ready I was. How I had been on autopilot until the situation changed and I had to deal with it. Had I really been ready the problem would have been, not simple, but more manageable.

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

I didn’t grow up with my parents teaching this. I heard (not learned) this later in life from a mentor instructing me in one of my first sorties in business. It wasn’t until rather recently that the lesson came up again and was learned, again. My wife and I carpool every morning. We don’t have the same job or work in the same building but we do share a commute. I am either taking her to her office, which is on the way to mine, or dropping her off at the subway. The problem was that for weeks we had gotten into a jag where we left late so she was late to work. She is much more of a Type A personality than I am, so this became a significant source of friction.

Everyday it was the same thing. I just need this last thing. She just needs to… Until I sat down, first alone, and then together with her, to talk out the problem. Just like in an airplane crash, it is almost never just a single failure. Still, you start at the crash site and look at the debris field. The realization usually hit less than a mile from the train station when, with highway traffic down to 25 mph and only minutes remaining it was clear we were not going to make the 7am train. The next train would make her 20 minutes late to work. It reminded me of my time in a Cessna simulator, turning from crosswind to final approach of a simulated airport, and seeing in that instant I was going to coming in short of the runway. The cockpit shook and the instruments froze. Rats!

Not leaving enough time for a commute is like not having enough fuel in an aircraft. It is not something you can make up for in route. Instead of a quiet, or lamenting, or accusatory final few minutes to the train we talked about one thing, how many minutes we need for this commute. We settled on 45.

Long Story Short

Once we had a handle on what time we had to leave to make the train we could work backward through everything we need to do in the morning, and then through everything that needed to be done the night before, to make the plan work. It can get as detailed as necessary, as in, how many times we can hit the snooze alarm or who gets the shower first. The point is we now both know whether we are on schedule, or not, every step of the way.

Coordinating care takes careful planning, too. Odds are, most people are not as ready as they think. It is not just coordinating calendars and making to-do lists. If you are involved in anyone’s care you need to really understand how this is going to impact your schedule daily, and how you are going to manage that. It will probably require a lot of communication, and a good tool to assist you. The first step is to step back and ask yourself, “How well is what you are doing now, working?” If there is more than you in the picture then have you discussed how things might be improved? And just like with a commute, are you properly prepared to be on time or are things hit or miss?

As I write this my wife is texting me to say she has arrived to work on time, and to thank me for reminding her to bring a coat. And it feels good to have finally gotten the lesson right.