Preparedness : What exactly is it?

Preparedness. It’s a word that has been used a lot throughout 2020. Were people prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic? Were businesses and public sector organisation prepared for COVID-19? Definitely not.

As a young boy I was first a Cub Scout, then I joined the Scouts. It is strange to look back on those times when the world was so different, but the one thing still rings true from my days of wearing a beret, neckerchief and woggle, was the motto.

Be Prepared.

Motto of the Scout Association

It encouraged us as young boys and teens to face uncertain situations, but gave the skill, knowledge and risk awareness to tackle those self-same situations. The organisation equipped us with the ability to go into a an environment and survive, if not thrive.

Preparedness - Woodland Ground View
Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

Personally, I think of ‘preparedness’ as a state of encapsulating the spirit of that motto, ‘Be prepared’. However, spirit is somewhat etherial and can mean very different things. So I had to come up with another way to define it.

After spending a long time in business, a better definition finally dawned on me.

Preparedness: The actions taken to ensure I can live my life, the way I want, when I want to regardless of what happens in the world.

For decades the concept of ‘business continuity’ has flourished into a mature activity.

  • How can the company keep of trading it that happens?
  • If our computers fail, how do we keep our customers satisfied until normal operations are restored?
  • What do we need to ensure our organisation will survive if one of our markets is badly affected?

So when it comes to what we refer to as ‘preparedness’ I now think along the lines of ‘Lifestyle Continuity’.

The TV and broadcast media would have you believe that preparedness relates to huge disasters that threaten the end or the world. Whilst that makes for a more exciting TV show, Preparedness Practitioners are not all wild-eyed people running off to the woods or living in underground bunkers. In the UK they certainly don’t stockpile large amounts of firearms and ammunition which you may have seen our friends across the Atlantic Ocean do.

When the subject of preparedness comes up for the first time you tend to get one of the reactions below:

  • Aren’t they anti-government loonies who are scared of everyone? (Thanks TV!)
  • I don’t see the point. The ‘system’ will take care of us.
  • I haven’t got time. I’m very busy, you know?
  • It all seems a bit silly. My life is fine.

For the most part, it is entirely understandable that people think that way. It is, after all, what they have been fed by the mass media.

However, if you inject a little realism into the conversation and start asking them about their ‘fine life’, it can often result in opening up the subject to others.

  • Do you check you have enough fuel in your car your journey?
  • Are you a member of a recovery organisation in case your car breaks down?
  • What would you do if your central heating boiler broke-down? Do you have boiler repair insurance?
  • Have you got a torch in case your mains electricity goes off?

These are all very simple examples of acts of ‘preparedness’ that nobody would associate with the stereotypes TV pushes at us.

One are a lot of people neglect is financial preparedness. If you lost your job tomorrow, how long would you be able to survive financially? Even on the most modest of incomes, saving a little and often can build up over time. I know. I’ve done it.

Preparedness is a way of life. It is not a one-off act, and it all starts by taking a long hard look at yourself and the lifestyle you want to live. The final thought I would like to leave you with is, it is never too late to get started.





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