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Leadership 101: Destiny Favors the Prepared

Mike Piccione Editor, Guns & Gear
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By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

The world is chaotic (It’s only going to get worse), and destiny favors the prepared. These two realities are the first of what are known as the “eight stands of a warrior,” all of which we’ll cover in a forthcoming lesson.

Today we want to focus on destiny favoring the prepared, because – for the leader – both destiny and preparation are everything.


First of all, what is destiny? My Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency.” In other words, destiny is what is going to happen whether we like it or not. And just how that destiny plays out has much to do with our preparation as leaders.

Granted, we have a great deal of control over the course we set for our futures, and charting a course has tremendous leverage in predetermining our futures. But pure destiny is in the hand of God.


What about preparation? In previous lessons, we’ve discussed the five mountains – mind, body, intuition, emotional awareness (and control) and spirit – which must be achieved if we are to become the whole man (or whole woman) we desire to be as leaders. These five mountains – particularly the mind, body, and spirit – also serve as the underpinnings of any personal preparation.

We cannot fully control or prevent destiny. But we can prepare ourselves to deal with it. As leaders, we must.

Failure to prepare ourselves – particularly when we are responsible for the lives and well-being of others – is utterly (in some instances, criminally) irresponsible. And though I am writing this primarily from a military perspective, the idea of destiny favoring the prepared also has absolute application for business, political, academic, social, and spiritual, really any kind of leadership.

As my friend U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret.) Commander Mark Divine – an experienced special-operations leader and founder of the successful SEALFIT program – tells us, “Living with your head buried in the sand of ignorance, denial, or non-presence is a recipe for disaster.”

He’s right. For the leader, it also spells disaster for those whom you are responsible for.

Divine adds, “We have all heard people complain about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This can’t happen. Wherever you are, there you are. You are either –

“a) At the right place at the right time (you are present and the time is now), or

“b) At the right place at the wrong time (you are present but your head is in the past or future).”

So how do we avoid being at the right place (which is where we are always going to be) at the wrong time (which is where we never want to be)?

Be a Boy Scout

The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” Sounds simple: But just for fun and a bit more illumination, I turned to my old Boy Scout Handbook (1970 edition). It says, “The Scout motto means that you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty and to face danger, if necessary, to help others.”

Aha! We see mind and body: Two of the five mountains.

Interestingly, we also see that the Scout Law – wherein a Boy Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent – encompasses two other mountains; emotional awareness and control (under “cheerful”) and spirit (under “reverent”).

Intuition, the fifth mountain, is perhaps a bit beyond what is taught in the Boy Scouts, because intuition is – as we’ve discussed – the very real “power of attaining direct knowledge without evident rational thought and inference.” (see


Prepared leaders are often described – or viewed – in the context of who will be leading at the collapse of civilization. It’s a great way to break down the differences between so-called survivalists and real survivors.

Basically there are two types of post-apocalyptic leaders. We have the stockpiling last-stander on the one hand, and the guerrilla leader on the other.

The stockpiling last-stander will last only as long as his food, water, medicines, generators, and ammunition hold out. Or as long as his walls hold or his formations stand fast. He fancies himself a survivor. He’s frankly kidding himself. The stockpiling last-stander has only prepared himself to extend the miserable time he has remaining to breathe in his overly prepared grave.

The truly prepared leader is the guerrilla leader.

The guerrilla leader is the leader who – with his charges – is not willing to limit himself behind fixed positions. He doesn’t have to, because (having mastered the five mountains) he is fully prepared to meet destiny and perhaps amend it to his benefit. We saw this type of leader – as I mentioned in the previous lesson – in the Apollo 13 astronauts, who refused to just sit in their crippled spacecraft and survive for a time (until their oxygen was depleted); and British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who when stranded with his men in the frigid Antarctic, refused to sit and wait to be rescued (and probably perish).

The guerrilla leader is able to melt into the backcountry.  He is able to read a map and compass, live off the land (hunt, fish, and forage), make use of what others have discarded, adapt, move, change, draw on God’s strength, and embrace every day as a new opportunity to follow a better path forward. He is physically fit, smart, flexible, resourceful, brave, and, yes, decisive, which is what we leaders – no matter our leadership realm – always have to be.

Stay with us. There’s so much more, including a great deal more on destiny favoring the prepared. Previous Leadership 101 pieces are available here. If you have questions or suggestions, I’m at 

– W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor who writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq and Lebanon. He directs the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team. He is the author of six books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications. Smith’s website is