Although I was never a boy scout myself, I have long been fascinated with the motto of the organization, whatever the ups and downs of the organization itself. The boy scouts (and a host of other related organizations) spring from the late Victorian period and a focus on preparedness. One of the more obvious questions when one talks about preparedness is what one is preparing for, and why preparation matters.
When one consults articles written about the boy scouts and related groups–those who have taken inspiration from them–one finds out that one is to be prepared for whatever comes. Generally preparedness has one of at least two goals. Either one is preparing in the sense of chess, where one prepares to spring a particular trap upon players that one player has already worked out and the other player does not, giving the prepared player a heavy advantage. Such tricks only tend to work for a short period of time because once the trap is sprung plenty of people will be analyzing the position for the best (or sometimes only) refutation of that novel idea, and so such traps are usually best sprung in important moments that help one to attain major goals, such as qualifying for a world championship. One does not want to burn valuable prep on something that is not going to get enough of a reward.
The other sort of preparedness is more general in nature. Sometimes we are not looking to spring a trap or to get a specific outcome but rather wish to be able to respond opportunistically to whatever presents itself. Life is full of opportunities to step up and if one has prepared oneself for such chances, one can gain a lot out of life. We do not have the time to get ready when circumstances present themselves, so we must be ready to act when conditions are appropriate or else the opportunity will be lost and someone else who is better prepared to act will be able to do so.
What we are thinking about in preparation is not always knowing exactly what to do in a given situation but being prepared to do something. It is not that the courses of action one takes are always going to be hard in themselves but that one wants to work out the repercussions of taking a particular action, and if one has thought through things and prepared for them one is able to handle those consequences better than being put on the spot and being frozen in panic and anxiety over those same things. Both good times and bad times present opportunities, and the course of our lives can be determined by the opportunities we recognize and take, and by what chances are not recognized until long after the fact, if at all.