Baseball has spring training, football has training camps, and golfers do… whatever golfers do (putt putt maybe?). In most sports, there’s a preseason. Why don’t we just get on with the games that matter? These practice games and matches are vitally important even though they don’t count toward player statistics or the tally of wins and losses. Why? Because practice makes progress. Perfect practice makes the best progress of all. So, you might say that: proper prior planning prevents poor performance. Whatever cute saying you choose the lesson is the same; it may not count, but it always matters.
In theatre, before opening night in front of a live audience, there are four to six weeks of rehearsal where actors learn their lines and blocking and make sense of the characters and story. Nobody would (should) step up to bat or step out on the stage without first putting in the necessary time to prepare. Because we know now that it may not count, but it always matters. Whether we are talking, sports, theatre, or business. Every day, every moment of preparation matters, which means the way you prepare today affects the way you work tomorrow.
Now you know the secret, so how do you make the most of your preparation? Here are seven simple steps that may not count but definitely matter.
- Take it seriously: Understand that your work now impacts everything else you do down the line.
- Love the process of preparation. There is great joy in accomplishing the little tasks, which eventually all add up to be major accomplishments.
- Tackle your work with an attitude of enthusiasm: There is no marking allow, just running through the motions without any intent. That teaches you nothing good. Only bad can come of it.
- Always return to the basics: You can never go wrong by practicing all the little things that got you to where you are today.
- Be open to fresh ideas: Experiment. Fail. Search. This is when you want to break out of your comfort zone and turn over all those rocks of possibilities.
- Don’t rush for the answer: Take your time. Even when you think you’ve found a great solution, don’t sit back and relax. Often there are even better solutions waiting if you take the time to look for them. Just because you found one solution doesn’t mean it’s the best.
- Have fun: According to Dr. Seuss, “Nonsense wakes up the brain cells.” We thrive creatively in environments that fill our day with play. I believe that if we never did anything silly, that nothing intelligent would ever get done. This does not mean that you waste time by goofing off. It does mean that the best fun is found in a job well done, where you embrace the creative attitude. The famous Broadway director Hal Prince put it this way, “I need to have fun in rehearsal. I need the laughter, no matter how emotional things get.”
There is no guarantee of the outcome, but by skillfully taking the right approach to your practice, you will be putting yourself in a position where something great just might happen.