Preparation is responsible for as much as 99% of the success of any given project or endeavor. That’s true. Ask anyone at the top of their game in any field or business, or sport, art, or anything, and the key to getting to the very top is PREPARATION.

That’s why college prep schools, which are generally regarded as the best schools there are, are called Preparatory schools. It’s why getting an MD, MBA, or Law degree that’s worth anything takes YEARS. It’s why musicians spend the better parts of their lives doing nothing but preparing for performance. Same with athletes and professionals in business. It’s why doctors and lawyers have PRACTICES.

I’ve been able to master a few things by this point in my life: marketing, WordPress, dogs, guitar, the Grateful Dead, design, cooking… actually, the list is embarrassingly long because I have many interests which I’ve entertained since I was a kid. And now I’m 52 years old and have spent the better part of my life focusing on these things all the time and preparing and practicing. Nearly every day in some cases. And intend to keep practicing and preparing so I can become even better. It’s why bluegrass players are all so old. And masters of their craft.

Preparation cannot be overstated. Whether it’s a Ted talk, surgery, an auto race, an exam, anything at all….preparation is key. It’s the unsexy, unheroic aspect of being the sexy hero. Or at least succeeding in what it is you are undertaking. And that can be as simple as opening a can of peas to getting into Harvard Law School, or starting a bee farm, should any such a worthy goal become yours.

When people look at others and immediately judge them, whether consciously or not, and think they arrived by “luck,” I’m willing to bet that luck was actually lots and lots of preparation when no one else was around. It’s why successful businessmen get to the office before all others and leave after everyone has long gone home. 40 hour work weeks are for complacent, compliant, go-nowhere sheep.

I had to learn this, as I learned everything I’m imparting in these Life Lessons, the hard way. By years of trial and error and years of trial and success. What always leads to the most success is preparation. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I was the most impatient person growing up. I never read instructions and thought I was clever enough to forego that step and figure it all out myself. That attitude sticks with me because of how it was demonstrated so much to me as a boy. That’s especially eye-opening when you consider the many complex projects I adopted as a kid. Building flyable large model airplanes for example. Plans when constructing an airplane or rocket or boat, all of which I built? Whoever heard of such a thing!?

Now I’m older and a little wiser at least, and I’ve learned the most important thing you can do when you begin something is to read the manual or instructions and consider what the manufacturer or author is saying.

In all fairness to myself, instructions and manuals weren’t always the most helpful bits of writing. Whatsoever. In years past, they were tossed together usually by international-speaking people who were the engineers or someone just walking around the office. In other words, poorly written on top of awful grammar and even spelling and typos. Awful diagrams, incomprehensible steps and writing, and just worthless. Those days have mostly passed thank goodness.

These days the material is likely posted online and there’s a wiki to help or a forum. Or even many forums for even the most obscure items and issues on Earth. But the user manual is also posted online and the quality of them has improved drastically. From the Dark Ages to Enlightenment.

I recognize the same impatience as I had in my daughter Cecelia. I’m trying to teach patience and that to do jobs right the first time is important. And to accomplish that goal means preparation before starting. Make sure all your ducks are in a row and you’re ready for the uncertain and any possible problems that may occur. If you can ever count on something in a project, it’s something going wrong. Remember that. Another reason to prepare yourself as best possible.

Yes, I was a Boy Scout who came up through the ranks from a lowly Cub Scout. So I am always trying to be prepared.

ABP: Always Be Prepared.

There’s a reason that’s the Boy Scout motto. It’s relevant and true and a mantra that will serve anyone well.

Hopefully, I don’t need to oversell the idea of always being prepared. Just trust me on this one. It’s hard to over-prepare, and I’ve never seen anyone actually do it anyway because I believe it’s impossible. You can never be too prepared for something uncertain because, by the very nature of uncertainty, you’re always unprepared.

This is where experience and wisdom kicks in or it’s time to call Daddy(me).

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