I have always believed in preparation.  Since I started following John Wooden when I was in junior high school ( yes before middle schools).   My family had just moved to Winchester, VA and I didn’t know anyone at the school.  I was a very good athlete so I gravitated to the athletic department to connect.  Whenever you come into a new situation and you start taking starting positions from boys who had grown up there, it makes it a little more difficult to assimilate.   My guidance counselor was the eighth grade basketball coach.  I was in seventh grade and I made the eighth grade team.  He took me under his wing as at first as the other boys didn’t much like me taking an eighth grader’s spot.  As he and I spoke he started telling me about how he followed John Wooden and his pyramid of success.  I started studying it and John Wooden and followed his teachings.  It taught me many lessons but one that has served me over and over is those who succeed have the humility to constantly prepare.

I recently did a talk at the Secret Service Summit in Cleveland.  The Secret Service Summit is not a conference to help people become secret service agents, it’s the premier conference in the country to help companies make massive improvement in their customer service skills.  I was honored to be asked to speak alongside an all star cast of speakers, each with actionable messages about customer service.  As I was preparing for the event, I was going back through my sales career and speaking engagements for examples of when I gave and received outstanding customer service and when I didn’t.  As I developed my new talk about “Making Raving Fans out of a Crisis,”  I remembered something from an executive that helped me develop my clients from a transaction to a raving fan of me; “Don’t prepare until you get it right, prepare until you can’t get it WRONG!-Kenneth van Barthold”

One of my goals since I left Oracle is to be selected and present a  Ted talk.  I watched them online and marveled at the succient way the presenter was able to articulate their message.   When I was selected to do my first Tedx talk at Queens University Kingston,ON, I was not only honored but a little nervous.  You have 18 minutes to present your “Big Idea.”  For someone who delivers keynotes that average 50 minutes, figuring out how to get your message out in 18 minutes was a daunting task.   I employed one of the things I talk about,  modeling, and spoke to others who had done a Ted talk.   Most of them told me that you would have to prepare about 5 hours per section of your talk to get it squared away and down to the 18 minutes.  Since Tony Robbins taught me that “knowing your content so well you speak from the heart, ” that was a challenging thought but I wanted to be congruent with the message I share about “modeling those who have the result you want and if you do exactly what they do,  you too will obtain that outcome.”  So I went back to what I learned in seventh grade from John Wooden and humbled myself and invested the time to prepare.   When you go to rehearsal before you present and see the other Tedx speakers, you do not want to be the one who stands out for not being prepared.  After rehearsal, it wasn’t as smooth as I needed to be so I stayed up all night so I was so prepared that I couldn’t get it wrong.   Last weekend, I presented my Tedx talk, “JOLT” and the preparation I invested in payed off.  It went flawless and the lesson I learned in seventh grade and from the executive who helped me is still practical today,  when it is truly important to you, you must have the humility to prepare so you do have the confidence to execute in the moment.

After reading Captain Sullenberger’s book “Highest Duty” and recently seeing the movie “Sully,”  one thing that stood out to me was all the practice and preparation Captain Sullenberger employed to become the pilot he became.  In the movie,  Clint Eastwood showed something that I wrote about in recent blog, “ How to focus when you are in a tailspin.”   I wrote about when pilots get into a stressful situation, they employ “mental models.” They have been taught to tell themselves stories about what’s going on as it occurs.  As the story of “Sully” progressed, it showed the preparation Captain Sullenberger did, from first learning how to fly a crop-duster to a F-4 during his time in the Air Force.  One of his instructors gave him permission to fly the plane as often as he wanted as part of his training.  He put the reps in there and I hallucinate in the Air Force also to prepare for the time he would need that skill, until he couldn’t get it wrong.  So when the birds struck US Airways 1549, he used “mental models” from his training and had the confidence to pull it off, having the highest probability for success or not getting it wrong and endangering all 155 on board and the people on the George Washington Bridge.

Over the coming weeks, take one skill every week and practice it over and over until it becomes second nature.   By the end of the next year, you will have 52 skills that you will be able to do so if that moment comes and you have to execute, you can’t get it wrong, because all the MOMENTS in your life MATTER.

Go to DaveSandersonSpeaks.com and for a limited time only,  when you purchase a copy of “Moments Matter“, you will get a copy of the book “HalfTime” free .

I’m excited to share that we’ll have a book signing  of “Moments Matter” on 3/8/17 in Murfreesboro, TN.  I would be honored if you are in the Murfreesboro area if you would join me! 

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Dave Sanderson is the Managing Partner of his firm, Dave Sanderson Speaks Enterprises based out of Charlotte, NC.  On January 15, 2009, Dave was the last passenger off the plane that crashed into the Hudson River, best known as “The Miracle on the Hudson” and was largely responsible for making sure so many others made it out safely.  In addition to speaking and training, Dave conducts workshops and his book was released titled “Moments Matter” on January 19, 2016, in which he discusses how by employing 12 key resources was a key factor that turned a potential tragedy into the “Miracle on the Hudson” and how does one take a potentially tragic experience and turn it into an opportunity to grow and contribute. He and his wife, Terri, reside in Charlotte, NC. They have four children, Chelsey, Colleen, Courtney, and Chance.