Tip 78: Be prepared for anything

Sometimes no matter how much you plan, unexpected things happen. And if you aren’t prepared, those unexpected things can turn disastrous. But when you’re ready for anything, you can totally be the hero for saving the day.


1. Bill Bowman, long-time coach of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps made sure his star swimmer was mentally prepared for any scenario during a race. He went as far as to step on Michael’s goggles one practice to train him to swim when he couldn’t see, and having his driver pick up Phelps late for another meet so he’d have to miss dinner. By training Michael Phelps to become “familiar with chaos,” he helped groom the swimmer to become the most decorated Olympian of all time.

2. After a very hard rain the night before, Africa Wild Vacations was able to save the day for me and my traveling partners while on safari in Kenya. Because of the rain, one of the bridges we were to cross was nearly flooded, and we were temporarily stuck in the mud. But because our tour operators were prepared, they quickly got us out of some sticky situations and we had a fantastic time on safari.


  1. Think through the scenarios of all the things that could go wrong. Then make a list of the tools you will need to help you navigate through those unfortunate scenarios.
  2. Don’t just do scenario planning. It is helpful to actually put yourself in uncomfortable situations. This way, you are able to get comfortable performing in less than optimal conditions. You can also pressure test your plan for getting out of a tough situation to see how it works in the real world.

Application for your business

  1. Make a list of all the things that could go wrong with an activity you perform in your business. Then for each thing that could go wrong, make a simple plan for how to navigate through the situation.
  2. Create a scenario for your top two things that could go wrong, so you can pressure test how well your plan will work to fix the plan. For instance, inspired by the Michael Phelps story, I did a swim workout with water in my goggles. I did it to help prepare myself for not being able to see when swimming in open water for a triathlon I was training for.

Previous tips 

1-22. Section 1: Build a relationship with your customers (series)

23-48. Section 2: Make your customers’ lives better (series)

49-62. Section 3: Reward your customers (series)

63. Be cool (code for be yourself)

64. Love what you do (and let it show)

65. Give your business some G.A.S.

66. Have awesome people

67. Take care of your awesome people

68. Be remarkable

69. Be memorable

70. Shake things up

71. Be awesome in unexpected small ways

72. Be awesome in unexpected big ways

73. Start a movement

74. Be fearless

75. Tell the story about your product

76. Do mundane tasks in a new, different, and unexpected way

77. Empower your team to make a less than optimal experience right