Lying awake looking at the ceiling in our flat (in West Berlin in the late 1980s) I can hear Bob in the flat above ours ‘stamping’ around. Bob is a big bloke with big feet and we like him because he is the General’s driver and when you hear him running around in the early hours, you know Operation ‘Sugar Horse’ is going to be called by his General in the next hour or so.
Then I hear banging on our front door. A young soldier is shouting ‘Sugar Horse’ ‘Sugar Horse’. Nothing gave me more pleasure or amusement than opening the door: wide awake, fully dressed and ready to go, than seeing the surprised look on the soldier’s face. He looks disappointed as it was supposed to be a surprise and secret call out. I had anticipated and I was ready (with a little help from Bob of course). Anticipate, Anticipate have always been my watch words. As a leader you need to anticipate what is likely to come your way so you are prepared. Anticipate your way to success. Operation Sugar Horse to be cont.…………
For me Anticipation is about:
- For Sugar Horse my bergan and webbing were always packed and ready with enough kit to last me for a week. It was stored in our wardrobe in our bedroom, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. What is it that you can prepare now for your next anticipated situation?
- Recognising Trends and Patterns. We recognised the trend and pattern of Bob stamping around in the flat immediately above ours, I had done some discrete checking and found out that Bob was the Generals driver, he would be called out to pick him up and take him to the Brigade Headquarters so he could ‘press the button’ to start the operation. It happened the same way every time. I think you can also anticipate by recognising people’s patterns of behaviours and the trends within your organisation and the organisations you work with too.
- As soon as I arrived in our flat in Berlin I worked out the quickest route to the Barracks and timed myself by running with full kit on so I knew how long it would take me and also how I would feel when I got to my destination.
- Reflecting on the Past to Anticipate the Future. I had previously been part of similar operations in another part of Germany such as ‘Sugar Horse’ albeit over 10 years before, so reflecting on how I previously reacted, behaved and acted, helped me anticipate what was needed to be successful.
- ‘Plans are nothing; Planning is everything’ – Dwight Eisenhower. You have anticipated the situation, what are you planning to do about it?
- Now work out your plan!
- Reflect Well done! you anticipated the situation but what did you learn from the experience? After each ‘Sugar Horse’ no matter that I anticipated the call out, there was always something I thought I could have anticipated better: a need, an action or even behaviour for the next time. Always be looking for the clues!
“The one who anticipates the action wins. The one who does not, loses” Jeff Cooper
Five Questions to ask yourself in anticipation:
- Is there something heading your way that you recognise? I have a belief that there is nothing new, only events which repeat themselves.
- What am I hearing? Listen, really listen. What are peoples conversations telling you
- How does the atmosphere feel around me? Test the temperature in your home and work environment – is it hotting up? If it is, is there is an ‘event’ coming your way?
- Have I looked ahead in my diary recently? Not just for next week but 3 months and 6 months.
- What can I do today that will save me time tomorrow?
Sugar Horse continued…….“Thank you so much I am on the way” I did not bother to wait for a vehicle to pick me up to take me to the barracks, as it was only a 20 minute run and the competitive streak in me wanted to be the first in. I am not sure how long we will be away (they never tell you) but Joyce has also ‘anticipated’ ‘Sugar Horse’. Joyce had said only the other night, “Steve you haven’t had a crash out for a few months, so I have made you some sandwiches to take with you when they come banging on our door” and added “Try not to make too much noise on the way out otherwise you will wake our girls” (they were babies at the time but they could already express their feelings, if they were unduly disturbed). “No worries Joyce” I had already anticipated that, “I will put my boots on after I close the front door”.
“There are two ways to face the future. One way is with apprehension; the other is with anticipation”