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Peter Millett

Ambassador to Libya, Tripoli

Part of Stay Ahead of the Games UK in Jordan

11th July 2012

Be Prepared!

Watching the Wimbledon tennis championships last week reminded me of the old Scouts motto: “Be Prepared”.  It demonstrates yet again that preparation is the key to success.

We not only saw the players thrashing the ball at each other on Centre Court, but also saw snippets of their painstaking preparations, spending hours every day honing their skills so they can perform at the top of their ability on match day.

Without hours of preparation, Federer and Murray would not have been able to last 3 gruelling hours of sporting conflict, nor able to play the full gamut of shots with skill, power and flair.  And no doubt Murray will be preparing for next year.

The same applies to the Olympic athletes travelling to London this month.  And to the Olympics themselves where London has been preparing for the last 7 years to receive 17,000 athletes from 205 countries to compete in 26 different sports in front of 500,000 spectators. The planning has been comprehensive, intensive and meticulous to try to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that the Olympics and Paralympics are a memorable success.

Of course the mantra “Be Prepared” can be applied to any walk of life or type of human activity.  The acrobats who entertained us at Cirque du Soleil had prepared every move over many months.  The chef who serves a dish of the finest delicacy has prepared the ingredients to ensure the stimulation of our taste buds.  And the politician who delivers an impromptu speech full of snappy quotes and rib-tickling jokes has probably worked hard on the structure and drafting of the speech.

The same applies to getting a job.  Employers these days are less interested in educational qualifications and more interested in skills and experience as necessary prerequisites for recruitment.  As an employer, we look for candidates who have thought through the type of skills we need, and can demonstrate that they have been there and done it.  But candidates seldom realise that the interviewers themselves have been through a process of preparation to ask the right questions designed to extract the relevant information.

Is there any alternative to preparation?  Of course you could fly by the seat of your pants, play it by ear and speak off-the-cuff.  But you should not wait to repair the roof until it is raining: much better to do it when the sun is shining.

Preparation means planning, having a strategy, thinking through the options and their pros and cons, assessing the risks and how to mitigate them.  Most importantly it means thinking through not just the outputs – the activity to be undertaken, but also the outcomes – the results you want to achieve on the ground.  A sound, properly thought-through strategy is the best way to deliver successful results.

As for tennis. I’ll keep practising and hoping my preparations will eventually help me to play at a level I aspire to. I’m still searching for the difference between a good day – when everything works well, and the off day – when it’s a disaster. If you knew the secret of the difference between the good day and the off day you could bottle it, sell it and make a fortune.  In the absence of such a magic formula, “Be Prepared”  is the best possible motto.

1 comment on “Be Prepared!

  1. 100% .. I agree with the importance of this topic and from my past experience in the Y2K era, I can see the value and I can for sure contribute to the success if/when needed

    all the best !

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About Peter Millett

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as Ambassador to Libya. Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015. He was High Commissioner to…

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as
Ambassador to Libya.
Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015.
He was High Commissioner to Cyprus from 2005 – 2010.
He was Director of Security in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
from 2002-2005, dealing with all aspects of security for British
diplomatic missions overseas.
From 1997-2001 he served as Deputy Head of Mission in Athens.
From 1993-96 Mr Millett was Head of Personnel Policy in the FCO.
From 1989-93 he held the post of First Secretary (Energy) in the UK
Representative Office to the European Union in Brussels, representing
the UK on all energy and nuclear issues.
From 1981-1985 he served as Second Secretary (Political) in Doha.
Peter was born in 1955 in London.  He is married to June Millett and
has three daughters, born in 1984, 1987 and 1991.  
His interests include his family, tennis and travel.