I used to live in Los Angeles and, due to good luck, would land invitations to fancy Hollywood movie premieres and after parties.
While all these experiences were memorable, one in particular stands out. It was rumored that Christian Slater was going to be at this premiere. I had a massive crush on him growing up and was extremely excited about the thought of striking up a conversation with him as we waited in line at the bar.
When I got to the party, and found myself actually standing next to him, I said “Hi, how are you?” Clever, right? He responded politely, then walked away.
My moment to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Christian was gone. Entirely.
But had I been more thoughtful, I would’ve had a better conversation starter … I would’ve planned for the starstruck experience. Instead, I choked.
What did I get instead? A critical reminder how important it is to be prepared in life for conversations, meetings, and whatever opportunities you find yourself in.
In the Marines, we called this idea “readiness,” which meant that operationally, physically, emotionally, and mentally we were always prepared for a mission. Now, as a more mature professional who works in the private sector, I think it’s simply being prepared so you’re able to be present to own the moments you’re in.
Here’s what readiness looks like:
- Stay Up to Date. As leaders, we must be dialed into the headlines that impact our globe, our country, our industry, and our region. Being aware of our world helps us with our judgment and decision making. It also helps us be relevant in conversations.
- Create Agendas and Review Agendas before Meetings. We should never create meetings without having an expectation of what we need out of them, or just fly into meetings without awareness of why we’re there. We shouldn’t waste people’s time or allow our time to be wasted. Meetings are moments when we can make an impact – we shouldn’t let these moments pass us by. If you’re meeting new people, plan ahead and look them up on LinkedIn to see what you have in common. Small things make a big difference.
- Don’t Waste Your Boss’s Time. If you’ve got a meeting with your manager, think through all the items you need to cover to maximize your time with them. Plan for important conversations long overdue. These types of meetings are moments to create positive impressions.
- Keep Your Camera “On.” I’ll admit: I prefer the phone to Zoom. However, if we’re on a platform, we need to be engaged. Part of that means looking engaged. And while your camera’s on, look the part of a committed professional – whatever that means to your clients, company, and industry.
- Finally, Plan Ahead. Constantly have awareness of what the next day and day(s) ahead have planned for you. Know what you can do today to be more present for the moments of tomorrow. If you’ve got a big presentation in two weeks that you’re nervous about, start prepping for it right away, which will allow you to feel more confident when you take the stage.
Live For All the Moments
We’ve all heard the phrase “Live for the moment.” But I like to add a twist to this: Live for all the moments. Being prepared allows us to do just that.