I just completed my own version of the Tour de France with the HotChillee London to Paris cycle tour. What a highlight this has been for me! It took a lot of time and dedication but I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to complete the 500 km route or enjoy the experience as much, if I was not so well prepared.
Preparation is not a sexy concept. For some reason the idea of a smooth operator, just winging it through natural ability holds much more allure. But the truth is that the better your preparation, the better your chances at success. Life throws us enough surprises to keep things interesting – being prepared is not boring, it gives you a fighting chance. Other than the preparation gained naturally through our life experience and working career, preparation should be a conscious, measured decision – something that is essential for success.
For any project to be successful – in life or business – it is important to know and understand your subject. You also stand a much better chance of reaching your goal if you stay up to date with developments and trends. And then you need to know your audience – whether you are presenting a talk or trying to sell your wine, you need to know your customers – it will affect the language you use, the style of your product or presentation and ultimately, in my opinion, whether you reach your target or not.
Preparing yourself means setting goals.
- What do you want to achieve – what is the ultimate result that would satisfy you.
- What is the deadline and timeline? Is it realistic?
- Identify the resources you require – research material, exercise equipment, people, money…
And then you need discipline. On many a wet, wintery morning I was tempted to lie in rather than braving the cold on my bike. When I had to push through with tired legs on the last day of the London to Paris ride, however, I realised the importance of those mornings when I got up and did the distance. When we cycled down the Champs Elysee and around the Arc de Triomphe, I knew it was all worth the effort.
This experience taught me how important it is to believe in a dream ending. Visualising the success made it much easier for me to stick to my preparations.
The SA wine industry knows all about preparation. Just to get the wine in the bottle is a process of preparation – from site to soil to vine to winemaking – and I think we are doing a great job. Perhaps our vision of having good quality, internationally acknowledged wines should now be extended to success in the market place. We need to empower ourselves through research, learning, trend-watching and discussions with industry role players and even consumers to ensure that we are prepared for the road to success.