The key to doing any job well is great preparation – this was the advice my concrete layer gave me as I was rushing to lay my driveway and doing a poor job in the process. The tone he delivered the memo with was scolding, my ears reddened, then burned with embarrassment as I realized the folly of my ways.
The lesson learned though, has stayed with me ever since – thanks Mr Concrete man.
Preparation comes in many forms. But for me it most often means having thought about the task, prior to endeavouring upon it. This sounds so easy, but I have found in practice it is an acquired discipline.
Sometimes preparation can take weeks of mental walkthroughs, thinking, revisiting then thinking again about the task. Other times it’s just a moment of clarity before getting stuck in. The level of skill required, the risk involved and the nature of the job itself will all dictate the preparation time demanded to do a job well.
Great preparation involves scenario planning, identifying fallback options, possible worst-case outcomes, and of course what success looks like. Then there is that moment right before action, something more akin to meditation than thought, a process of clearing the mind, freeing it from other thoughts and distractions, getting it ready to simply perform.
This process for me at least is very much learned and has evolved over the years. The Oscar Wilde quote, ‘youth is wasted on the young’ comes to me here, in that if only I could have applied this knowledge when I was a young man, how much more consistent I would have been and how much better those performances might have become.
Having played sport at the highest level this mental preparation I can tell you is the difference between performance and non. It works. But moreover, now that I’m far away from the competitive world of professional sport it’s just as important a tool to manage myself outside the arena, in fact arguably this is where the real benefit exists. Preparation for meetings, clarification of what I’m trying to achieve in business, life. Decision making – communication, all of this needs preparation and mental consistency. So having the skills and mindset to set myself up right is key to me succeeding.
Preparing for a day is the first thing I can ritualise and make stable. To this end preparation for a working day is just as important as preparation for a big event or game of sport. Having a routine, a system for getting your head in the game, for grooming well and putting you best face forward makes me feel ready and confident for the day ahead. So I take it seriously. It underpins me, my daily rituals underpin me – I’m talking about my routine, my secret to doing a job well and it is something I like to give a little ceremony.
Ceremony is everything – I was told this by a friend, what a gift. Ceremony is the process of making your own life more special by adding meaning to the things you do. Since learning this trick, I have tried to wrap a little ceremony into my daily rituals. This can be as simple as having my special coffee mug (sustainable – but also unique to me) or using a shave brush to lather with instead of a cheap shave cream from a can. It might be nine minutes of meditation as my first act of the day with Buddhist prayer bells to mark the start and finish. To be honest what it is does not matter, but the act of underlining something with a small sprinkling of ceremony adds importance, weight, and value. You are worth it. Life is worth it.
My routine is;
- Wake and do nine minutes mediation – nine minutes because that is one sleep cycle on my alarm. I should do more – but the practice of non-thought is a beautiful way to start the day.
- A short exercise routine – press ups, some stretching and a few abs then shower.
- Clean my face – Mondays & Fridays with Rock n Roll scrub – ‘once for business, once for pleasure’. Every other day – ritual face cleanser.
- Then a shave using T&D’s great natural shave cream and a shave brush to apply it – (unless of course I’m sporting a beard or stubble upon which a little clean-up is all that’s required).
- Moisturize – Gameface is the only product fit for purpose on the market.
Now I’m ready for coffee and the day. It might not sound like much, but following this daily routine prepares me better to embrace the day, but more importantly it centres me and helps me be more present, what can be more valuable than this?