The Biggest Lesson I Learned This Year
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." I like the hint of sarcasm behind this quote by Roman philosopher Seneca, said some 2000 years ago. If you catch his drift, you’ll note that preparation is the behavior that seems to lead one to “luck”.
So, that kind of brings us to a chicken & egg type of question, that being: “Does luck even exist, or is it simply what we have come to call the catalyst of preparation meeting opportunity?”
To answer that I would need to share my philosophy on failure. Based on an experience I had last year, I feel that 99% of failure is prompted by the fact that you know you aren't prepared for what you're contemplating and the antidote to that is my biggest lesson learned in 2015: the importance of preparation.
I was asked to speak at a charity event that I was actively involved in and that was very close to my heart. People who know me well know that at that time I had an incredibly strong aversion to speaking in front of a group any larger than two people. Thankfully, last year I was focused very much on doing things that scared me. Why, you might ask? No substantial growth ever really comes from doing things you already know you can easily do. I have an insatiable hunger for growth and despise stagnation, so when I was asked to speak I said, “Yes.” Then as I walked away from the conversation I thought, “What am I doing?!”
However, I prepared months in advance for this speech and began delivering it to myself daily several weeks out from the event. I got to the point where the notes were only needed as an outline (and in case of a total deer in the headlights moment.)
I made sure that I wrote the speech to read as I would naturally talk so that it wouldn’t feel forced. The 30 minutes before I went up on the stage I had more butterflies that I’d felt in a very long time, but I also knew that I knew my stuff. I walked up, looked the audience of 600 dead in the eye and began. My nerves were gone within 30 seconds. My speech was a total of about 8 minutes and when it was over I could not have been more proud of myself.
It was incredible experience for me. It cured my aversion to speaking. Since that speech, I've been able to step up to the plate for more events that require poise and calm delivery. When I was truly honest with myself though, I realized that the fear of speaking stemmed from a time when I had spoken in front of a crowd and done so with the completely naïve approach that I could wing it and just “go with the flow.” This almost ruined my ability to even imagine speaking again, but it was due to my own lack of preparation.
I’m so thankful that I didn’t let it hold me back from ever trying again. (Apparently 3 years is all you need to get over something.)
I believe that good is the enemy of great and I never want to be ‘average’. If you’re experiencing ho-hum results in any area, be it business, fitness, parenting or finances, take a step back and truly be honest. Ask yourself if you have really leaned in and prepared yourself to improve in this area. Not sure?
Here are a 5 signs that you are probably NOT on your way to preparing to improve:
- Your plan to improve is to just “do your best”
- You feel like you’re “really trying hard” but can’t show any tangible evidence of how
- You’ve decided that this particular area most likely won’t ever improve because it’s the cards you’ve been dealt
- You’re just not the kind of person who excels at this particular thing
- When you think about this particular topic you get a little twist of icky-ness in your stomach and immediately feel better if you choose to think of something else. Anything else.
Avoidance and excuses are easy to spot in others, but harder to spot in ourselves. The things above were a list of my own excuses as to why Heather Hudson speaking in public would never again happen in history. I was living in a world of denial and vagueness. It didn’t work for me. I’m glad I prepared and faced my demons head on. The scariest part ended up being the moment when I said, “YES, I’ll l do it!”
Is proper preparation always the key to going from good to great? Let’s see.
How could someone prepare to be a better parent?
- Read 5 books on parenting.
- Schedule time with the child daily and make it an appointment that is as important as if your boss scheduled a meeting with you. Make it a ‘no phone zone’ so that there are no interruptions. This would require prepping in advance so that you don’t have an emergency ‘interrupt’ your precious time.
- Prepare what you will do with the child and make sure everything you need to do it is ready.
How could you prepare to finally lose weight?
- Schedule in your workouts and be realistic about what times you have so that they actually happen.
- Go to the grocery store and buy all the Tupperware you’ll need to take snacks and meals to work.
- Prepare your food so that you don’t leave the house without your food for the day, ever.
- Arrange your workout clothes every day and grab your lunch as a habit.
- Make sure you have access to water all day to get in your 8-10 servings. For some, this means taking a gallon to work, like I do.
- Prepare for bad days and get right back into your routine even when these they happen.
How could you use preparation to improve your finances?
- Read 5 books on finances.
- Evaluate what you really spend each week/month.
- Be honest if you’re living outside your means.
- Meet with a financial planner, finally!
- Schedule the times with your spouse (if applicable) to have the conversations needed to plan for your future properly
- Have the self-control to put the money where it goes first and then all other expenses come after that.
As you can see, every goal requires preparation. The problem is, many people make goals but don’t do this important step and then wonder why they don’t reach their goals!
Don’t let lack of preparation stagnate your progress. Make 2016 your year!
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