Why do some men prepare to lose?

A colleague at work was pacing up and down looking nervous, I asked him what was up, and he told me about his leadership interview he had in forty five minutes and how we wasn't prepared at all. Now, this guy clean knew that he had this interview three weeks ago and here he was, 45 minutes before crunch time telling me he wasn't prepared.

'I don't know any of the leadership principles.'

Look them up online.

'I'll never memorise them in ten minutes'

What happened to the 45 minutes?

'I can't do it, I'm going to fail.'

Yes, with that attitude you are... With that I loaded up the principles on my phone and showed them to him. He took a brief look before sighing and going back to his defeat.

Now I wouldn't usually give people like this the time of day and let them run head long into their own disaster, but this was such a pitiful display from him that it sparked my interest in just what he was doing to himself. So for the rest of the day I thought on his situation.

It is easier to prepare to lose than it is to win

So in the three weeks he had to prepare for the interview, he admittedly did nothing, only he did prepare. He prepared his excuses and his circumstances. Aside from my conversation with him, I found him going from person to person informing them of his situation. Not a single person offered him the lessons he needed, instead they might as well have patted him on the head and told him he was doing his best. 'Just think positive!' they cooed calmly at him. What is worse, he responded better to these platitudes than he did to me trying to help him revise.

So why did he do this? And why do men all over the world set themselves up to sabotage their opportunities? Because it's easier than being successful and having to take on the responsibility of leadership. It would be easier for him to face the initial humiliation of a failed interview with his plethora of excuses than to step into the shoes of a leader and be responsible for the operations day in day out. He is scared of prolonged failure, so he ruins his chances before he can even try.

I personally love interviews, they are a trial by fire and a good indicator of who the person is. It is common for interviewees to be nervous, to ramble in their answers, but when a strong candidate enters the room and lays out coherent thoughts and questions of their own the format of an interview really shines. You can be the latter person, or the interviewer themselves, if you just do the damn preparation. If you have enough respect for yourself not to torpedo your future.

The moment you know you have something to prepare for, be it an interview or an exam or a physical test, that is the moment when you start working every spare moment to nailing it. You don't stop until you've memorised every leadership principle or you know the practice questions inside out or you're hitting a 15 on the beep test consistently. The moment you drop your shoulders and utter the words 'Damn I can't do this.' is the moment defeat starts feeding off itself. The empty platitude of 'think positive' is only empty because the 'positive' is empty of advice. Positive isn't 'I can do this!' Positive is 'I'm DOING this!'

Back to this guy though, his response post-interview was predictable. He had now dropped the 'I'm not prepared' excuse and instead adopted 'The questions were stupid.' 'I didn't have long enough.' He had now absolved himself of responsibility for preparing for the interview, and it was the interview itself that had failed him. With this final mental leap he had solidified his excuse in failure, and the empty platitudes continued to comfort him.

Let me assure the young men who read this, if you do your part in preparing yourself to be successful you will have put yourself into a higher bracket than the average candidate. This can be applied not only to working life, but everything you aim to be a success in. If you prepare for a date by looking fresh and talking calm, you're in a higher bracket. It is all about applying yourself, and repeating the mantra of 'I am doing this.' Never shy away from defeat, because that is inviting defeat into your home. Always aim to win, and never make excuses for your success.