Ten Cents and a Handkerchief

There was a wonderful article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal about the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout rank (Michael Malone: A Century of Eagle Scouts).  It reminded me of my days as a Boy Scout and the many early leadership lessons I learned in my troop.  Today’s posting reflects one of those lessons and the Scout motto of “Be Prepared.”

10 Cents and a Handkerchief

 I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
Abraham Lincoln
 The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
John F. Kennedy
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Bible, Ephesians 2:10


As a Boy Scout, I was taught early in life to “Be Prepared.” At our weekly meetings, we were required to present 10 cents and a handkerchief. The dime was so that we could make an emergency phone call at a phone booth (yes, it only cost 10 cents to make a call back then, and we still had pay phones). The handkerchief was for emergency first aid, to stop bleeding or use to tie a splint. More than forty years later, I still carry a handkerchief in my back pocket and my cell phone is never far away. Who knows when I might be a first responder at an accident, and save someone’s life with my compress and phone call?

A huge part of leadership is preparation. Sadly, many of today’s leaders are unprepared. Coaches and business executives frequently use the phrase “failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Organizations fail because their leaders are inadequately prepared, and don’t prepare their employees for the future.

Surpassing leaders are constantly preparing themselves and their teams for new adventures and challenges. These leaders “do their homework,” making sure they are knowledgeable about people, companies and their industry. Oftentimes, this comes from reaching out to their friends to get the full story, illustrating the importance of strong relationships. They also manage their time well, preventing the frequent excuse of: “I can barely keep up with the present, much less prepare for the future.” They lead in the present, while preparing for the future.

Highly successful leaders are usually good negotiators because they are well prepared. Prior to any negotiation, a leader has to spend days and sometimes weeks to ensure he or she is fully prepared. I trained under one of the best negotiators at Disney, Frank Ioppolo. He took our team away for several all-day sessions where we role-played multiple scenarios of point and counterpoint. We thought about every negotiation item, anticipating what the counterparty would ask for and how we would respond. We determined our “walk away” position, and how we might reengage the negotiation if we did walk away. It was an extensive, exhausting process. But, when we finally went into the negotiation, we were fully prepared and got a great deal because of Frank’s leadership. Through great preparation, we won the battle before it was fought.

To excel beyond measure requires you to prepare beyond measure, or at least more than most good leaders. Your level of preparation determines the level of your leadership. What are you doing today to prepare for your next assignment?

Action Points

• Do your homework.

• Prepare for negotiations extensively, using role playing and multiple scenarios.

•  Set aside time in your week to prepare for the future.

• Carry a handkerchief and your cell phone!


Faster career advancement, financial success, greater confidence in all situations

This excerpt comes from Chapter 30 in The Surpassing! Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence.  Find out more about the book and sign up for the free weekly tip at www.thesurpassinglife.com.

P.S.  I recently spoke to a group of Walt Disney World summer program students from Cru.  Here’s a great picture of these enthusiastic new Cast Members.

Brad Rex and 2012 Cru WDW College Program Cast Members


1 Comment
  1. Was never a boy scout but preparedness is the one thing everyone associates with the boy scouts. Preparing for things is such an easy thing to do but it’s also easy to get caught up in our pride that we are already prepared.

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