Why is it Hard to Prepare?

This is a guest post from Mark Miller the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

I was standing in the back of the room listening to my introduction, hoping the person would say something I could comment on when I took the stage. The room was full – hundreds of people. They had come to hear me speak. They wondered what I would say. So, did I… I was not prepared.

Image Hard to Prepare

I hope this has never happened to you as a leader. Take my word for it; to stand and speak in front of a group, large or small, ill prepared is not my idea of fun. Now, I’m okay with making spontaneous remarks as needed – that’s VERY different than a keynote presentation, or workshop setting in which success really does hang in the balance if you’re not prepared.

Speaking in public is just one example in which we need to be prepared. We also need to be prepared before we conduct an interview; before we conduct a performance review; before we make a budget presentation, etc. The truth is we need to invest a significant amount of our time in preparation mode. How are you doing on this?

To say, leaders need to be prepared is probably stating the obvious. So, if it’s so obvious, why do we find preparation so difficult? For me, there are several primary reasons.

Everything a leader does, including preparation, is more difficult when our calendars are overbooked. How’s your calendar these days?

My calendar needs constant pruning.

If you and I chronically have too much on our calendars, preparation is one of the early victims, not based on priority or strategy; it is ignored because of other louder voices. The loudest voices are rarely the most important.

Leaders struggle with preparation because we fail to schedule it. If you have a budget presentation on a certain date, you’ve got to also put time on the calendar to do the prep. The same is true for every activity where you and I need to show up prepared. Look at your calendar for the next 90 days – is it littered with blocks of time allocated to preparation? It should be. When life was simpler and someone would ask me to speak at an event, the test was my availability. Now, there’s a two-part test, am I available AND do I have time to prepare? If I can’t find time to prepare, the answer is no, I can’t speak at your event.

Finally, leaders find it hard to prepare because we’re really good at winging it. Often, we can just show up and get acceptable results. This is extremely dangerous. When we “wing it,” we risk not only the outcome, but we put our leadership at risk. If it’s a public event, we also risk the reputation of the organization we represent. At a deeper level, we jeopardize an opportunity for influence. Who knows if we’ll ever get another chance to impact those people or that situation? When we wing it, we can usually pull it off, but for me, it’s rarely my best work. I want to live to a higher standard, and I know you do too.

So, what do we do?

  • Make preparation a personal priority.
  • Make the necessary adjustments in your thinking and your calendar to show up ready to go.

Remember, as the leader, there are people in every room you walk into who are waiting and wondering … what are you going to say? You shouldn’t be one of them. 

Special opportunity for my readers: read a sample chapter of Leaders Made Here. Plus you can buy Leaders Made Here and all of Mark’s other books on Amazon.

Are You Using Nextdoor?

By now you have probably received an invitation to join Nextdoor. And if recent press is any indication, you have been using Nextdoor in your community for quite some time.

Image Nextdoor Sign Up Page

Nextdoor currently has over 125,000 neighborhoods registered in its network, which, according to Nextdoor co-founder Nirav Tolia, represents over 75% of the neighborhoods in US.

For those unfamiliar with Nextdoor, Charlie Rose recently interviewed Tolia and they discussed the history of Nextdoor and the value it offers to consumers and local business owners.

One of the biggest use cases for Nexdoor members early on was neighbors asking other neighbors for the best service provider in their area. In a New York Times article about why Nextdoor has caught on, Tolia describes why it works so well for local business owners…

Of the five million messages are exchanged each day on Nextdoor, Mr. Tolia said, “the network’s users send more than one million recommending services to one another. And around 80% of those posts are discussions about local service providers and businesses.

Nextdoor vs. Facebook

How To Avoid The January Funk

How are you doing? Is the January Funk messing with your mind and playing with your attitude? Well the good news is you survived Blue Monday, the unofficial “gloomiest day” of the year.


The first Blue Monday was declared on January 24 in 2005 as part of a press release from a travel company. The date was a result of research used to discern travel trends and holiday bookings. And while science has debunked the gloomiest day of the year theory, there is no denying seasonal factors like post-holiday depression, increase debt, and inclement weather can be a catalyst for the January Funk.

But the good news is there are three things you can start doing today to beat the January Funk.

Why You Need To Pursue Your Purpose

Personal Development Coaching can help you pursue your purpose. This style of personal growth coaching creates an environment where you can explore and assess their current strengths and weaknesses in order to initiate positive change which can improve your overall quality of life.


Lasting Improvement

The primary objective in personal development coaching is to instill empowering beliefs which builds confidence and equips you for sustainable and lasting improvement.

Meet Richard (not his real name), a guy who seems to be living the dream. He has done well in his career, his marriage has a solid footing, his kids do well in school and are active in sports. He lives in a nice neighborhood, attends church on a pretty regular basis, and wishes he had more time to be at the lake or on the golf course.

Thanksgiving Prayer


Thanksgiving Prayer

O God, when I have food…help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work…help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home…help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain…help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering;
…help me to destroy my complacency;
…bestir my compassion,
…and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving

from Tom Martin Coaching!

Tom Martin Coaching

New Website Coming Soon

The Tom Martin Coaching website is about to have a new look, more features, and will offer new information and resources designed to help clients prosper in business and thrive in life.


Tom Martin Coaching Website

This website conversion has been a work in process since July and the final modifications are almost complete. Trent Phillips and his team Bizography have worked hard to turn vision into reality and the grand unveil with take place in a matter of days. The end result will be a website which serves as both a guide and resource to prospective clients considering coaching and existing clients who are fully engaged in the coaching process.

Memorial Day

A Day For Prayer

Memorial Day is a time for rest and time for celebration. Schools for the most part are out which means summer break is underway. Memorial Day weekend is a time for travel and time when families gather for picnics, bbq’s, and camping.

PhotoCredit: Rick Hyman/©iStockphoto

©iStockphoto/Rick Hyman

While there is no way to adequately say thank you to the families who have lost so much, there is something we all can do…

Focus On What Is Important Right Now

When asked, “what’s the single most important factor you attribute to your success in life, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett both answered, “my focus.”


I totally agree, and as an executive coach, some of the greatest personal and professional breakthroughs I’ve seen are when a client invests time and energy aligning their focus around the question, “what’s important now?” 

Keep Moving Forward

Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet!

Know this, the journey to your best year yet will be tough. Navigating new terrain is challenging and sometimes it is difficult to sustain momentum. Don’t lose heart, embrace the adventure! Focus on your vision, modify your action plan if necessary or the time-table, but keep moving forward toward your goal of making 2016 Your Best Year Yet!


“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Dr. Martin Luther King

If your momentum has stalled or if your stuck, don’t give up! Give me a call and let’s set up a time for a conversation to make sure you keep moving forward in 2016! You can reach me directly at tom@tommartincoaching.com.

Do You Have A Theme For 2016

For the last several years I have declared a theme to start the New Year. This one word focus serves as a powerful guide to influence my mindset over the next 365 days. This year my theme for 2016 is Posture.


Full Definition of Posture:

  1. the position or bearing of the body whether characteristic or assumed for a special purpose, the pose of a model or artistic figure
  2. state or condition at a given time especially with respect to capability in particular circumstances <maintain a competitive posture in the market>
  3. a conscious mental or outward behavioral attitude

The first component of the definition, and most recognized, deals with the positioning of ones body. My selection of posture for a theme describes a positioning for me as well, only it is my mind. In order to achieve the goals I have for 2016, I know my mind has to be in the right place.