Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight

It’s one of my favorite idioms and literally means, “getting into a confrontational or challenging situation without being adequately equipped or prepared. Does that ring a bell? It should — everyone does it at some point in their lives. And that’s okay. But the key is to learn from your previous mistakes and try your best to not repeat it. Failing to do that just proves that you’re either a moron or have dumb luck. (I’m betting my chips on the former.)

I believe it’s a great lesson in humility and common sense since both go missing when chips are down and you’re desperate. I know as I’ve been stupid enough to do this! Most employees, entrepreneurs and small businesses wind up in this situation because they didn’t think much about the next big step/opportunity when it arrived. They saw one and jumped! Completely ignoring that they can’t possibly grow wings on their way down from the cliff. The result? A disaster!

(Trust me, the result will be the same even if they survive the fall. Why? Read on.)

Of course, I’m not suggesting you should think and analyse till you brains and (eye)balls fall off! Preparation doesn’t have to take weeks, months or years. You just need to be aware of the context and consequences because that’ll give you an impetus to figure out ways to get good enough first. For example, there are two ways to quit your job — on a whim or planning that you’re going to quit in the next 90 days. Similarly, if you’re wanting to develop your business further you don’t just start cold calling random people or with an email blast but spend adequate time to understand your market and the smallest viable audience your business can serve.

Can you see the difference? Believe me, this is a solid commitment to begin with — you’ll be more calculated with your moves and be more picky about your battles. And should you be shoved into one, you’ll know how to handle the situation, even if it means walking away from the fight or deserting the scene to save your life.

The point is this — regardless of the nature of fight, get good enough first.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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