Thursday, November 17, 2011

Performance Is A Function of Preparation

Athletes and the military live and breathe this truth, but I don't observe that enough business and non-profit leaders ​see preparation as essential.  I say that because I don't see people investing a lot of time and effort in preparation.

Yes, people will -- on a deadline -- pull together a presentation and rehearse a bit. 
Yes, people do -- when pressured -- work on non-urgent tasks.
You are likely thinking right now, "I agree that preparation is important. But WHEN would I POSSIBLY have the time to do more preparation?" 

No way to sugar-coat this answer: make practice and preparation and rehearsal a priority that tops the priority of lower-level things which others could do, or don't add a lot of value.  Delegate important work to others.  Don't do "stuff" just to be busy.

Look at your calendar for the next 3 weeks. Some questions for you:

What are some important meetings that you should invest time to be prepared for?  Can you anticipate the questions that will come up, and rehearse excellent answers?  Can you think through the critical issues and write out your perspective, so you can succinctly cover it in the meeting? 

What is something important that is not on your calendar that should be?  (Remember, calendars are not just for meetings, but for scheduling blocks of focused time for to work on high priorities.)  Hint: review your performance goals, both individual and group.

Another suggestion: pick an area where you would like to get better, and then schedule time for this.  Let's say you want to be a better communicator in oral presentations.  Schedule time for action on this.  For example:
Buy that book Glenn recommended by
Read that book by
Use what I learn in the _____ meeting on
Make notes about that presentation, and decide what to do differently next time
Pick another presentation by
Join Toastmasters by

The more focused time you invest in practice and rehearsal, the less likely that you'll be stuck in a performance rut. 

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