There was a saying a few years back that served many of us well:  “Poor planning on YOUR part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on MY part!”  Just as one does not seek to run a marathon, enter into a marriage, or start a business without preparing for the venture, one should NOT expect others to ‘bail them out’ because one did not do their ‘homework’ (and ‘heart work’).

With the economic depression that this nation is in (and no end to the financial woes coming anytime soon), I’ve been getting more emails, phone calls and ‘corner’ conversations about ‘investing’ in someone; ‘helping’ someone out, or contributing to one program or another.  As I check and research these requests (as I advise that many of us SHOULD do) I usually find that the person involved had not taken the initial steps of preparation needed at the beginning of their venture.  They found out–the hard way–that one who neglects that small matter of preparation places themselves in the position of a beggar.

In case no one has told you, beggars don’t do very well in tight economic times.


I marvel at the fact that our young people have every gadget and techno-toy imaginable; but many of them can’t seem to prepare for the real world.  All that techno-wizardry, but unable to sit down at a employment application kiosk, or in from of a college entrance exam (or even a GED exam) and ‘focus’ for the length of time necessary to successfully complete a task that will determine their earning power.

It boils down to that small matter of preparation.

Of course, who among us doesn’t want to ‘cut corners’ and get on with life?  It is only natural to want to take the path of least resistance to the top of one’s profession, or to progress from grade to grade.  It is the resistance; the struggle, hard work and sweat that makes one a young man or a young woman of quality.

If you haven’t noticed, quality people are in short supply today and generate even less in the way of positive publicity.  The ‘easy button’ has become the new normal part of the highway to adulthood.  In the mind’s eye of many young people today: “Why do we/should we have to ‘prepare’ for an education, for a job, or, even a date for Friday night?  After all, ‘so and so’ didn’t prepare…and they got the girl/boy/recording contract, or a new house built for them on a reality show?  Why should I ‘make’ the extra effort?  Why should I take the time to ‘prepare’?”


African American youth need to prepare for the life ahead of them as never before, because society continues to ‘talk’ one thing, but emphasize another.  Yes, there are more ‘doing’ shows on You Tube, Hulu, and even network and cable.  However, the ones who produce these shows MUST know the ‘basics’ of math, public speaking and English.

Famed educator, journalist and author Tony Brown once said–and I’ll paraphrase: “Use the King’s English to secure food, shelter and clothing.  Speak the language in the marketplace; but leave the slang at home!”

Knowing how to speak standard English is one of the basics, and a large thing on the menu of preparation.  I did not say ‘perfect’ English, but ‘standard’ English.  Ignore your peers who seem to thing that speaking well is a ‘sell out’.

They will be ‘left out’ of a job…and asking YOU for a recommendation!

Many of those who arrive on our shores have taken the time to learn the language of the land.  Those of us ‘already here’ need to get a clue from them and brush up on our ‘Shakespeare’.  The young man or woman who can speak well will represent themselves well and have a secure place in any market they attempt to tackle.


Every job has tests one must pass to enter the field, keep their position, or advance  into the profession.  Even burger flippers and fry droppers have to learn the company-mandated ways of their jobs BEFORE they can be promoted to higher positions.

Testing is a fact of economic and academic life.

One of the complaints I hear from some middle and high school students is that it’s not ‘fair’ that standardized tests are not only written in the language of the majority, there seem to be more and more of them each year.   My response?  Another old saying:  “He who makes the gold, makes the rules.”  In other words, the culture that is economically dominant will set the standards as to what is acceptable in the shop and classroom!  The successful in life get used to being tested–and are ready to pass!


Preparation is the mandatory building block of character AND spiritual development.  That’s why it is crucial for one to develop their spiritual connection with God through prayer, Bible study, and a determined relationship with Jesus Christ.  THIS will keep your internal gyroscope on track, when those around you are ‘going wobbly’.

It is better to lose a job…than to ‘go along to get along’.

Several recent standardized test score scandals have exploded across the nation.  Some teachers and administrators have said that it is not fair that the No Child Left Behind law mandates better academic outcomes.  Since teacher pay is tied to test performance they felt–in their view–that they ‘had to cheat’ by changing and raising student test scores so they could keep their jobs.  These ‘academic cheaters’ should have trained their students to be successful in the classroom, and the students would have come through with better test scores.

A prepared teacher WILL turn out prepared students.

Just ask Marva Collins.

RAMEY, a syndicated columnist and book reviewer, lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. THE RAMEY COMMENTARIES appears on fine websites and gracious blogs around the world.  To correspond, email  © 2011 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications.


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