Chance punishes the unprepared mind

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

“Chance favors the prepared mind” is attributed to the French microbiologist Louis Pasteur. After many discoveries and successes, he was accused of simply being lucky. He agreed – but contended that he was ready for the luck that passed his way.

Let’s flip that quote over and think about the following. How prepared were the political, corporate, and operational leaders to deal with the reality they faced? Some were. Others were not. And was it simply “luck” that made the difference?  

  • 3 Mile Island
  • Opioid crisis
  • Chernobyl
  • 9/11 terrorist attack
  • Titanic sinking
  • 2008 financial meltdown
  • Challenger explosion
  • Enron demise
  • The downfall of Sears Roebuck
  • Fukushima nuclear accident
  • 1918 pandemic and the 2019 pandemic
  • Blackberry phones
  • WW I and WW II
  • And on, and on, and on

What’s the common thread through all of these disasters? People and the use (or neglect) of their minds!

History is interesting, but we live in the present. Think about the world in which we live right now. Most of us were totally unprepared for Covid-19 and those who worried about it could not or did not marshal the forces to blunt its impact.

I’ve written and taught about eight basic skills I’ve observed in people who were (or were not) prepared for their future and the future of their organizations. The skills are obvious; but based on work over the past fifteen years I know that three of them are underutilized in most organizations.

  • Observe
  • Imagine
  • Reason
  • Reflect
  • Challenge
  • Decide
  • Learn
  • Enable.

I’ll write about the underutilized skills in a forthcoming post. In the meantime, tell me which of these obvious skills are underutilized in your organization.

Thanks for helping me update my thinking.

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