Daily Advocacy Tip: # 13 - Preparation

Preparation

When drafting think of the Henry Kissinger story and ask yourself, ‘Is this the best I can do?’

The story goes as follows:

It’s 1971 and Henry Kissinger calls in one of his aides, Winston Lord, and asks for a status report on the Allende regime in Chile. This is a great opportunity for the aide who talks to some people, makes some phone calls and turns in a ten-page document at the end of the week.

On Monday morning, Kissinger calls the aide into his office. They sit in silence for a moment then Kissinger picks up the document and drops it saying, ‘Is this the best you can do?’ The aide replies, ‘No, no. You said it was a rush job, and I … let me have it.’

The aide goes away, looks up some local Chilean newspapers, adds some maps and diagrams to clarify troop movements, and turns in a 20-page report the following Friday.

Again he’s called into Kissinger’s office on Monday morning and again Kissinger lifts the document and drops it saying, ‘So, is this the best you can do?’

And the aide suddenly realises that he hasn’t done any interviews nor has he transcribed any of the primary source letters and journals. He retrieves the papers and works away on it for another week turning in a report that’s nearly 100 pages long but the next Monday, it’s the same dismissive question, ‘So … is this the best you can do?’

And the aide realises that he hasn’t included an index, footnotes or diagrams. After two more weeks of solid work the report, in its ninth draft, is now close to 200 pages long but yet again he gets the same response from Kissinger, ‘So … is this the best you can do?’

And finally the aide loses it, ‘Yes! That’s it! What the hell do you want? That’s the best I can do! I can’t do any more! I’ve had it!’

Kissinger gives him a rare, slight smile, ‘Good.’ he says, ‘Now I’ll read it.’

This tip, and 364 others, can be found in 365 Daily Advocacy Tips by Leslie Cuthbert.

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