Sunday, March 31, 2013

Preparation

By Dave Dargo
In our classes we emphasize the importance of planning.  We talk about the importance of being prepared, being aware and being ready.

Some people think that all that preparation and awareness is exhausting and hints at a bit of paranoia.

The reality is that it's neither.  When you're driving down the road and wondering, "What's for dinner?" that doesn't mean you have an eating disorder.  The same goes for maintaining awareness and preparing.  When driving down the road you could also be wondering, "What would I do if that car cut in front of me?"

When I was a young child, my father would play a game with me whenever we went someplace new.  When we entered a new building or room my father would say, "David, I want you to point out three ways you can get out of this room."

It wasn't long before it just became a habit for me that every time I entered a room I would have a quick look around and see all the ways out of the room and, ultimately, make a mental note of which was the closest.

There's nothing paranoid about it at all.  By making it a game when I was a child my father instilled in me the importance of being able to get out of a room in case of fire.  There was never any discussion about fires, or smoke inhalation or anything scary.  My father merely made up a little game that forced me to plan an escape route in case it was needed.

I never gave it much thought until the day I found myself in a building that was being evacuated because of fire.  The fire alarm sounded while I was attending a large conference.  Most people just sat there looking around quizzically.  Some stood up and looked around wondering if they should really leave.  Because of the game my father invented when I was a child, combined with other preparation my father gave me, I was one of the few who stood straight up and left the building through the closest exit.

I never gave it a second thought.  I knew I might be in a building some day that would catch
fire and when it happened I knew what to do.

That's what preparation is about.  That's what planning is about.  It's not about thinking about all the bad things that might happen, it's all about making sure you know what to do if it ever does happen.

Oh, and that fire?  It was fascinating to me to watch the fire department extinguishing the fire in the lobby of the hotel when so few people had evacuated the building.  When we returned to the meeting there were many people who were embarrassed that they had not evacuated.  The reality is that something happened for which they hadn't planned or prepared and, therefore, they didn't know what to do.

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