Preparation: The Ultimate Controllable

“Control the Controllable” – you are probably quite familiar with this phrase if you have read any of our blogs, listened to one of our podcast episodes, or participated in a team building event with the Empower Leadership team. The vast majority of situations encountered during participation in competitive sport are unpredictable and uncertain; causing coaches and athletes to choose between focusing their attention on the “controllables” (i.e. effort, preparation, communication, etc.) vs. that which is out of our control. The teams and athletes who handle ambiguity best are those that dedicate time and energy towards planning for the unexpected. Here is a simple exercise to help your team be best prepared for whatever is thrown their way during your upcoming season!

The Process

The Empower Leadership team is all about “the process”; we understand that there are many situations over the course of a year that are out of our control and the only way to make the most out of those situations is to be prepared for anything that could be thrown our way – whether it be crummy weather, a late arriving bus, or a challenging group of participants. Our process starts and ends with the G.R.I.P. Model of Leadership. G.R.I.P. is an acronym standing for (1) Goal clarity, (2) Role clarity, (3) Interactions, and (4) Process. When we prepare diligently to be sound in our “G.R.I.P.”, we are confident that we are putting the best brand of Empower Leadership forward in each situation we encounter.

The Exercise

This worksheet activity is designed to help teams and/or athletes (1) identify potential outcomes of a given situation, (2) develop iterations of an actions plan for each potential outcome, (3) identify potential roadblocks to success for each outcome, and (4) develop standards for accountability for each potential outcome. Additionally, this exercise will help athletes and teams develop the great leadership habit of evaluating situations, resetting expectations based on the evaluation, and responding (NOT REACTING) with an updated course of action towards achieving your desired outcome given the “uncontrollable” situation!

Step 1: Download and Print the Lead with Empower Preparation Worksheet

Step 2: Complete the far left column first (Best Case Outcome/Scenario)

  • Identify and record the best case scenario for the upcoming practice, competition, or season
  • Identify and list goals for the best case scenario
  • Identify and list the individual roles/responsibilities for the best case scenario
  • Identify and list your standards for interactions/communication for the best case scenario
  • Identify and list your plan of action for the best case 

Step 3: Move to the top row of columns two, three, and four

  • Identify and record the “next best outcome” (column two), the third best outcome (column three), and the “worst case scenario” (column four)

Step 4: Reset the Expectations!

  • When your desired outcome or situation changes, you will face the choice of responding (through strategic planning, adjustments to your process, and effective communication) or reacting (impulsively trying to find a solution during a storm of uncertainty). Strategic responses will be more fruitful than impulsive reactions!!!
  • A strategically mapped out plan for anticipated situational changes will help your athletes adjust and adapt to that change and thrive during moments of uncertainty.
  • Once you’ve identified the “alternative outcomes/situations” (columns two through four), take time to identify, list, and discuss how your goals, roles, interactions, and process may change.

Expect the Unexpected, Strategically Prepare, and Overcome Uncertainty

It may seem unrealistic to be prepared for every unexpected situation that may arise during a given practice, competition, or athletic season; however, with some foresight and strategic planning, we can identify the best case outcome/scenario and alternative scenarios for each situation we may find ourselves in. Once the scenarios are identified, we are set up to get a G.R.I.P. on what it will take for the team to be as successful as they possibly can in any situation. Expect the unexpected, plan with purpose and passion, have the courage to reset the expectations as required by the change in situation, and help your athletes thrive during times of uncertainty!

Youth Leadership Development at Empower Adventures

At Empower Leadership, our leadership development programs help young people develop the skills and confidence to become leaders in their community. Not only are our programs are great learning opportunities, but they’re also a lot of fun. With adventure-based courses and our enthusiastic instructors, your child is sure to have a good time and make some memories. To sign up for a program, contact Empower Leadership today!

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