“The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” This is a quote from pro football coach Vince Lombardi, arguably the greatest football coach of all time, by basketball coach Bobby Knight who won 902 NCAA Division I men’s college basketball games, the most all-time at the time of his retirement. Knight is best known as the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers from 1971 to 2000. So I will take them both at their word that making yourself ready for the contest is more important than the contest itself. Knight goes on to say that, “The actual game, test, or project is just the end of a long process of getting ready.”
But there are others who share this same philosophy. Idowu Koyenikan, an internationally acclaimed organizational consultant, said that “Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.” And German Kent (born Evelyn LaShawn Palmer), an American print and television journalists, noted that “Your strength doesn’t come from winning. It comes from struggles and hardships. Everything that you go through prepares you for the next level.” And Matshona Dhliwayo, Canadian based Philosopher, entrepreneur, and author, shared that “You don’t have to remind a flower when its time to bloom is near; it has been preparing for it all of its life.” And Lailah GiftyAkita tells us that “Every action in the present prepares us for the future.”
Michael Banks, Software Engineer at Polecat Intelligence, in his article on why preparation is important to your success, said that we should think of preparation as a mustard seed. When you plant the seed, it takes a few years to become a tree. A tree in itself is an embodiment of purpose that seizes the opportunity to provide shelter for birds and people. Actually, opportunities are only identified in the place of preparation. When you apply yourself to developing your craft through knowledge and skill acquisition, you gradually begin to notice the void around your craft. A desire to fill that void grows until you seize that opportunity. I hail from a country with one of the largest crude oil reserve in the world. Prior to when this commodity became a worldwide necessity, no one saw this product as a wheel of change to global energy.
But the Bible is not silent on this subject. King Solomon said that we should first get your fields ready, next plant your crops, and then build your house.1 He also warned that a smart person foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them, but the average person goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.2 But one of Solomon’s best messages on the need for preparation is when he said that people might plan what they want to say, but it is the Lord who gives them the right words. People think that whatever they do is right, but the Lord judges their reason for doing it.3 I would suggest that everyone read the rest of what Solomon said.
Believe it or not, there are some people who wait for an opportunity to come and then prepare for whatever it demands of them. Without being dismissive, I would venture to say that since they don’t know what opportunities may be given to them, they really aren’t sure how to prepare. Having been a teacher, I subscribe to the idea that education is what prepares a person for the future. However, from what I’m hearing today, many schools, colleges, and universities are teaching students to expect what they want from the future and demand that it be given to them when they go out into the workplace.
I learned that the key to success was to start early preparing for the future. I did not know what I would grow up to be, or where life’s path would lead me after high school and my military service. But the more I read, studied, learned, and allowed myself to be tested on the humanities, sciences, and philosophies at the time, the clearer it became to me the direction I felt God wanted me to go. And I can say with all humility, He allowed me to serve in positions of leadership I never dreamed would be mine. When I asked why they chose me for such an important position, their answer was that I seemed to know what I was doing and did it well.
So why not take the words of these successful people and the Word of God and commit yourself to get better at what you’re doing now without waiting for the right opportunity to come. You’ll find that when it does arrive you feel a whole lot more prepared than if you did nothing up to that point. Furthermore, unless you are willing to prepare, the opportunities may never come at all. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Proverbs 24:27
2 Ibid. 22:3
3 Ibid. 16:1-2