Be Prepared/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on May 28, 2018


On May 6, 2018, journalists Brian Bennett and Teresa Berenson, of Time Magazine, penned an article which discussed the fact that President Trump was not invested in spending much time in preparation for the talks with North Korea. Apparently, he was planning to rely on his own instincts. In the article, David Pressman, a former Ambassador to the U.N., opined that there would be great pressure on Mr. Trump to come up with an agreement, and absent preparation, it would be hard to expect an effective agreement emerging. As one of my Professors put it, “If you don’t have a goal, how to you know when you have hit the target?”

President Abraham Lincoln once said this about preparation: “Give me six hours to chop down the tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Stephen Covey in his book about “successful habits” referred to this habit as “sharpening the axe”.

In any negotiation or mediation, it behooves a party to prepare what they want, what they will ask for, how they will approach the other party, etc. Going on Google and getting a full menu of links to articles and books is a good way to start. Talk with people who have been in your situation. Diary your own thoughts, needs, wish list, etc. Be prepared. Don’t wing something important. In life, coming with a sharpened axe may be one of the best determinants of ultimate success.