Opportunity Favors the Prepared Mind
Karen and Jay share thoughts on the importance of preparation and the vital role it plays in achieving success.
There will be those rare precious moments in your life when everything suddenly breaks your way. The new job, the new opportunity – whatever it is. Perhaps you’ve dreamed about it all your life. You need to seize the moment. But the question is ‘will you be prepared?’ Will you have done the hard work, day after day, year after year, to put yourself into a position to capitalize on the great fortune that appears on your doorstep?
During a lecture in France in the mid 19th century, Louis Pasteur, the renowned French chemist and microbiologist once famously stated, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Pasteur was speaking of Danish physicist Oersted and the “accidental” way in which he discovered the basic principles of electro-magnetism. The idea being, that when we practice or prepare for something, what may feel like luck or simple chance when we encounter something unexpected, is actually the result of our preparation or consistent practicing. In the world of scientific experimentation, half-knowns are very much the norm. A scientist will conduct a physical experiment in an attempt to prove a genuine hypothesis. When none of the experiments are accurate, the chance of making an accidental discovery tends to grow. However, it’s only with a prepared mind, to Pasteur’s point, that a scientist can not only understand what their experimentation may have accidentally yielded, but also integrate the new accidental discovery within their existing work.
While life may often feel like a game of chance, it’s the ‘prepared mind’ that enables us to have a greater chance of success than we would otherwise. Preparation increases the likelihood of success in any endeavor. It allows you to anticipate and overcome obstacles, identify potential risks, and develop strategies to navigate challenges effectively. Whether it's studying for an exam, preparing for a presentation, or training for a sports event, thorough preparation enhances your aptitude and increases your chances of achieving your goals or in some cases going above and beyond them. There’s also something that should be said about how preparation improves our adaptability. Preparation gives us knowledge and awareness about a challenge we face or a task we aim to complete. It ultimately allows us to be pro-active about specific scenarios we may face and react accordingly. Rather than panic in the face of the unpredictable or unknown, it promotes composure.
Two years after Pasteur’s famous statement, saying that “chance favors the prepared mind,” he would happen across a discovery that would change his career. When approached by a colleague who was having difficulties with some fermentation experiments at his beetroot factory, Pasteur agreed to help him by visiting the factory and observe his samples with his microscope. At first, he thought he was only viewing a difference between filtered and un-filtered beetroot, but in fact what he was observing was the difference between healthy and failed fermentation. This discovery would not only lead to manufacturers being able to effectively observe the fermentation of their product, helping them avoid production failures and increase their production capacity, but introduce a whole new field of science: microbiology. And it all came through a little bit of chance and years and years and years - of preparation!
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in NH - "Be Prepared"
One of the most well-known phrases around the world is the Boy Scouts' motto - Be Prepared!
In 1907, Robert Baden-Powell thought up the Scout Motto where it was then published in ‘Scouting for Boys’ in 1908, and in 1910 the Boy Scouts of America was founded. His idea was that Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and strong leaders and to bring joy to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might await him.
I know that the Boy Scout experience was instrumental in my development. In my case, learning independence in the outdoors, forestry skills, hiking, first aid and even cooking. Critical life skills along with a comradery and code of conduct that instill honor and discipline.
Boy and Girl Scouting in New Hampshire have long been instrumental in fostering valuable skills and preparedness among young individuals. These organizations provide a structured and supportive environment where boys and girls can develop leadership qualities and build lasting friendships. Scout camps in New Hampshire play a crucial role in this process by offering immersive experiences that enhance these abilities and provide opportunities for personal growth.
One of the primary focuses of Boy and Girl Scouting in New Hampshire is skill development. Scouts are exposed to a wide range of activities that teach them practical skills such as camping, first aid, navigation, and outdoor survival. These skills not only empower scouts to navigate the wilderness but also instill a sense of self-reliance and confidence that can be applied in various aspects of life. Whether it's building a fire, tying knots, or identifying edible plants, scouts gain hands-on experience that enhances their problem-solving abilities and resourcefulness.
Preparedness is another crucial aspect emphasized by Boy and Girl Scouting in New Hampshire. Scouts are taught how to be prepared for emergencies and unexpected situations. They learn about emergency procedures, basic first aid techniques, and how to stay calm under pressure. By developing these skills, scouts become more resilient and capable of responding effectively in challenging circumstances. This preparedness extends beyond wilderness scenarios and helps scouts navigate everyday life with a sense of readiness and composure.
Scout camps in New Hampshire provide an ideal setting for scouts to practice and apply their skills in a supportive and supervised environment. These camps offer a variety of programs and activities that promote personal growth and self-discovery. From hiking and canoeing to team-building exercises and leadership training, scouts have the opportunity to push their limits, overcome obstacles, and develop valuable life skills. Additionally, the camp experience fosters a sense of camaraderie and community among scouts as they work together to accomplish tasks and face challenges.
Today's Scouts can earn more than 135 merit badges that cover the range from sports, crafts, science, trades, business and even future careers. And if you are working on the popular FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program some elements of it can be applied towards the robotics merit badge.
On the Scouting website nhscouting.org/granite-base-camp you'll find information on the various camps and programs offered including the exciting Base Camp program which is a network of outdoor adventure parks in New England that provide great outdoor adventures to youth and their families. These Base Camps provide unique outdoor adventures in a welcoming environment for families of all kinds to experience nature and create memories together through programs that introduce youth to careers, hobbies, and outdoor pursuits, develop valuable life skills, stimulate learning and build strong character.
Each Base Camp location offers unique activities and experiences. At New England Base Camp, you’ll find ice climbing, indoor swimming, and a ropes course. Experience BMX bikes, ax throwing, boating, and an outdoor pool at Adventure Base Camp, and at Granite Base Camp in Manchester, NH you'll have fun with slingshots, fishing, ice fishing, and archery. You and your children are invited to attend one of the “Adventure Days” to try out the main activities, or you can sign your child up to participate in one of the many specialized program offerings.
Thanks to the Scouts for helping past, present, and future generations of young people “be prepared”!
Preparedness in Financial Planning: Practical Insights from the Field
Robert W. Service said, "It's not the mountain ahead that wears you out; it's the grain of sand in your shoe."
What a powerful visual that is! Anyone that has had to stop to take out a grain of sand can attest that walking another inch on flat ground can be just miserable. What stops people from making it up the financial mountain ahead is that grain of sand in the form of a larger than expected electric bill, an unplanned repair or medical issue or perhaps a lost sale or not getting the pay raise.
Though financial planning may not be an exciting exercise – great preparation - along with a positive mindset can go a long way. Challenges will come, and they will derail you if you let them. The great news is that you can prepare for these ahead of time and there are many ways this can be done. Personally, I'm a big fan of protection first planning. Have a plan to deal with the grains of sand before they even happen.
One example that most people can relate to is car insurance. The odds of having your home destroyed in a fire is about 1 in 1600. The odds of your vehicle being totaled in an accident is about 1 in 490. Either way, auto and home insurance are absolute must haves as those can be pretty significant hits to the wallet, should you find yourself in that unlucky group. What about your means to make a living? Yourself. Statistics say that disability will strike 1 in 4 Americans at some point in their lifetime. Do you have the means to replace your income for a few months or even several years?
Seven in ten Americans will experience an extended health event, often requiring long-term care, at some point and generally in their later years. Yes, there is insurance for that situation too. Health insurance can potentially save someone from a bill larger than a real estate note, and like all of the other ones, there is a certain amount that we can do to mitigate, though not eliminate, every risk. Having these protections in place gives you peace of mind and helps you to maintain positive thinking through the next step of planning, which is allocation.
Granted, you've already allocated some of your income toward protection by now, and sometimes that is an area to find opportunities for savings. Allocating can involve basic checking and savings accounts, stocks, mutual funds, 401k, 403b, 529, IRA, annuities, and other vehicles. Sounds confusing. "Now that you've relieved my stress through protection and forms of insurance, you're throwing so many other options at me, it's like trying to choose just one box of cereal in an aisle of 173 choices." It's like another jagged grain of sand in your shoe. OUCH! The great news is that working with a financial planner who has experience, credentials, and perhaps most importantly...a positive mindset; their goal is to help you stay focused on your goals and relieve your stress, not add to it.
Finally, the last step is distribution. Whether it's from your social security or retirement savings, pension, or other sources, this is where you reap the benefits of all your hard work. Of course, there is one more grain of sand....taxes. OUCH, again. A good financial planner will help you in the preparation of your plan to identify and implement ways to minimize your future taxes. So, there it is, the PAD technique. Protection, Allocation and Distribution. When you have the right pads, you have a lot less ouch.
Here are a few things to consider for your own situation:
Am I adequately insured? 47% of Americans are underinsured. And occasionally, some people are over insured.
Are there areas in which I'm paying too much for something? Amateurs tell you to switch from Starbucks to coffee at home. That might sound good on paper, but there’s a lot better advice than that, and it doesn't always have to be uncomfortable to be effective.
What if I already have a Financial Advisor? That's excellent. If you already have a doctor, hopefully you also get a second opinion occasionally.
What if I'm pretty sure I'm all set? You might be, and those are the best meetings with people when they find that they have everything set up.
A good financial planner’s mission is to help put people in the best place for themselves, their family and/or their business. Especially as there are plenty of opportunities, as there are so many blind spots people have that can turn into "ouch" situations.
Another hot topic is, will artificial intelligence (AI) eliminate the need for financial professionals? There's no doubt that AI is a highly effective tool to leverage and help augment a financial professional’s skills. However, despite its many advantages, AI is unlikely to completely replace the human element in financial advising roles.
You can prepare and successfully climb your mountain with this guide. In the words of Sir Edmund Hillary, "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves".
Positive Profile of the Week: Katrina George
This week we are delighted to highlight a leader in wellness, fitness and physical preparedness, Katrina George of HotWorx in Bedford.
Katrina has nearly 30 years in the health and wellness space. She has been a personal trainer, life coach, and worked in the medical industry. Her resume speaks for itself and her commitment to helping others achieve physical and mental greatness is a true inspiration. But it's what she and her husband decided to do in 2018, that truly elevated their impact to an entirely higher level.
In the fall of 2018, Katrina and her husband Robbie brought the first HotWorx franchise to New England. For those who may not be familiar, HotWorx is a workout facility equipped with infrared saunas which elevate the burning of calories, aid in detoxification, relieves stress, and pain. In essence, it’s a 24-hour fitness studio offering yoga, barre, Pilates, spin classes, HIIT workouts, rowing machines, strength training and much more in their patented infrared saunas.
Katrina and her husband did the research and saw a great opportunity not only to bring something new to the area but help bring her wide range of expertise into one place. There are over 300 locations across the United States and Katrina and her husband took the risk and over the past five years have been giving great rewards to the many members that have been coming to their Bedford, New Hampshire Studio.
Katrina and Robbie have also parlayed their belief in well-being and support of others beyond their HotWorx world. They are huge supporters of many volunteer and community organizations. I first met them when they joined Karen and myself at our annual NH Supports Children of Fallen Patriots fall event. In addition, Katrina has established a sort of positive wellness network, if you will. She highlights fellow small business owners who work in the health and wellness space. She welcomes them into her studio and actively promotes these opportunities to her loyal members.
Katrina is a true leader. Always determined and forever focused on helping those make a difference for themselves. Her efforts on behalf of her clients have produced remarkable results. And it’s not surprising. She prepares, she plans, she is enthusiastic and most of all, Katrina is committed to the well-being – the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of her clients. What's in store next for Katrina and her husband Robbie? Only great things for sure. Our wishes for continued success and thank you for all that you do!
Quotes of the Week: Chance Favors the Prepared
"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet." - Bobby Unser "Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared." - Idowu Koyenikan
"The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today." - H. Jackson Brown Jr.
"The harder I work, the luckier I get." - Samuel Goldwyn "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein