In a competition, it is not always the best qualified contestant who wins. This is true in football as it is in academic examinations and even in a job interview or bidding for a great opportunity. Many times we see surprising results when the likely team or candidate does not make it. Sometimes— in fact, most times— it is simply down to the best prepared contestant. If you can master the art of preparing thoroughly for any competition that you encounter in life, you will always emerge the winner.
This is the topic I chose to address in a talk that I delivered to The Polytechnic students around 2010 in response to an invitation by the then principal Dr Charles Mataya. I termed this idea The Principle of Inevitability. By this I mean the idea that you can prepare so well that the only possible result is you emerging the winner. I have personally subjected this principle to several tests and found it working, especially when you the plan and execute plan with total discipline, effectiveness and efficiency.
When implementing the principle of inevitability, you do structured preparation for the competition. This means you study the competition thoroughly and then develop a holistic plan designed to make you beat each of the contestants on every point and in every category and placing your total points or score above possible levels that can be achieved by anyone who does not have a plan like yours. And, they will not have a plan like yours! Basically, you develop the best possible plan and then execute it with total effectiveness and efficiency. Such a plan is only possible when you fully understand the winning criteria and you gather as much information about the competition and the other contestants. You need to be very resourceful to gather such information.
There are three main parts to such a winning plan: the competition judges or selectors, the other candidates or contestants and then you. Your plan must cover all the three stakeholders thoroughly. On the part of the judges or selectors, your plan needs to address the likely issues or points they will be looking at. Your preparation must cover those points thoroughly. Your plan must ensure that you convince the panel beyond any doubt that you are the only person to win whatever competition you participate in be it job interview or fight for a scholarship or promotion or bid for multi-million kwacha project or anything else. This includes that you must show that you thoroughly understand the substance of the competition. If it is a job interview, you must show that you understand everything about the employer, about the job, its challenges and opportunities and so on.
You must try hard to find out about who are the other contestants. Be resourceful. Exactly how you can do that I will leave it to you as your assignment! We can only add that once you know the names, dig more about the people using such social media tools as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and other Internet-based tools. You can also speak to people that know your competitors. Draw up a table that shows the strengths and weaknesses of each contestant. Use your strengths to expose the other candidates indirectly. Use their weaknesses to demonstrate your strengths emphatically but again indirectly. You have to be subtle and remain professional.
On your part, fully understand your weaknesses. Prepare by closing all your weaknesses or making up with some ways to cover those weaknesses in the interim. Leverage your strengths to obscure the weaknesses. Do not leave your strengths loose – put them to full use and maximise their impact in the competition. Play the game by dragging it to your areas of strengths and demonstrate that strength. Leave nothing to chance. Plan for everything when implementing the principle of inevitability. Be in control all the way to the very end.
Today we have given a general description of the principle of inevitability which you can apply in any type of competition. This is a rather global view of the principle. Next week, we will come one step lower to make the principle more practical by sharing some practical anecdotes and illustrations. Good luck! n