The fisherman prepares his nets and fishing rods. A cricket batsman prepares in the nets. The motto of the Scouts says “Be prepared.” Are you prepared?
What is the other extreme? You are invited to speak, told about a coming game or informed of an upcoming exam. What happens then. You start to postpone preparation. You meet with inertia according to Newton’s first law of motion, which states “an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless it is acted upon by an external force.”
Why do you yield to inertia? Simply because you hope that motivation will fall on you from the sky like the legendary apple that fell on Newton’s head. But you only experience gravity pulling you down.
So what can you do to overcome this?
First of all realize that there is nothing pleasant or romantic about preparation. It is simply honest hard work. You might have to do it alone. No one might see you do all the toil. No one will applaud you.
Secondly, look at people who perform well. They make it feel that it all happens easily. Realize that it is so only because of the long hours and perhaps months and years of preparation. There is no substitute for it.
Thirdly, the secret is to simply start. Inspiration will follow. Do not wait eternally for inspiration. Often it comes as a result of hard work and not by waiting for it. For example, if you have decided on a topic to speak just take a sheet of paper and write the topic. Note down one or two thoughts that comes. It need not be perfect and it need not be the best. That doesn’t matter. What matters is you got started.
Fourthly, try to cover as much ground during preparation. For example, you are to prepare for a speech. You might be using only forty to fifty percent of all that you prepared for the actual speech. But then what is the importance of extensive preparation?
It helps you to improvise while you perform: As a speaker a new idea will come suddenly while you speak and you can go for it like Martin Luther King did. His “I have a dream segment” was not in the original written script but was the inspiration of that historic moment.
Similarly, you might have seen a batsman in cricket execute improvised shots with great effectiveness. This is the power to improvise you get out of preparation.
The fifth secret about preparation is anticipation. You need to think about all situations that can go wrong and be prepared for it. Let me give you real life examples. I have forgotten to take the notes I prepared for an important speech. I have faced power failure at night during speeches. During your preparation you should be able to foresee situations.
The sixth secret is rehearsal. The more the better. The moment should come when you feel you have had enough of it and you feel absolutely weak and nervous and almost unable to perform. Until that point rehearse and rehearse till you are dead tired and fed up with the whole exercise.
Finally, get some good sleep the day before your performance. Today’s preparation will help you in some future crisis. The result will be a performance with confidence. Then you will be thankful that you did all that hard work when you had the chance.