Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's All About Position & Preparation

Last Sunday on the way home from an early morning church meeting, I was stopped at a traffic light waiting for the signal to allow me to proceed. I was positioned between two cars. In the car behind me was a good friend of mine. Both he and I are competative, so already I had thought about how I would manage to stay in front of him as we turned onto the highway before us. When the light turned green, and the three vehicles turned onto the highway, I shot for the open lane only to be cut off as the vehicle in front of me changed lanes. I glanced into my rear view mirror only to discover that my friend had stayed in the other lane and had closed the gap enough that a safe lane change was not available. And even though I was driving a sedan that was known for its power and handling, I was now looking at the tail lights of my friend's car in front of me. Not a happy sight, but I was happy for him and the good patience and decision he had made. I waved as I passed him; he having to slow for his right turn.

Later I received a text message from him that said,
"It is not always speed & power, but position that wins."

A couple of days later, I had entered a photo into a contest online. The photo was a hurried attempt to shoot something I had in my mind. It was near bedtime and I didn't want to disrupt the home schedule. So I took my son out across the street, set up the shot and got it done. It was fun. Always like being with my kids and they are also so supportive of my hobby. We had a fun shoot and ended up with this photo.

The next morning after I posted the photo, I received a Private Message from a great photographer who does a lot for the site. He gave a quick complement and congratulations. I responded that I had just quickly thrown the shot together. He replied with a profound statement. He said, "Most of what I consider my best also "just happened". But I know that these brief moments that lead to a great capture wouldn't exist if there were not hours and hours of preliminary work.

Everybody can make the last few steps to the top of Mt.Everest. Getting yourself into position to be able to make them - that's the trick."

These two stories pounded home the reality of the need for preparation. The olympics are just a couple of weeks away. Each athlete will give their all to win in their event. As we watch, we will only see a small performance of great brilliance. We will stand amazed at the power, speed, and grace they will exhibit. But none of us will have watched their hours of preparation. 

How often do we look to have the victory of the day only to realize that we failed to "position & prepare"? When our teenager comes home with an attitude of disengagement, and we try to have a productive conversation only to be shunned, it is too late to position and prepare. Steve Covey stated it well. He talked about making emotional deposit into life that we can use at a later day. 

If we failed to build a relationship of trust with our kids when they were young, then continued to nurture that relationship; when they became teenagers, we had no deposit to withdraw from when a need arose. 

So too in every area of our lives. Position and preparation begin a long time before the actual act. The challenge can be, however, that we don't always know when the time to perform will arrive. It is our challenge to prepare and position every day for that which is to come. So how do we do it?

1) Take time to pray and ponder. There is an insight that can come to us as we quietly ponder our life and purpose. Clear direction will come to us and inspire us as to what we should do now to prepare for tomorrow.

2) Read good books. Many brilliant and inspiring people have left a record for us to follow. Study good books. They become deposits in our minds of things we can do in ours.

3) Serve others. When we selflessly serve others, a higher purpose in life becomes apparent. Our burdens become smaller and our self-esteem grows.

4) Exercise and eat right. By creating a healthy body, we create a vehicle for us to perform in. The better the vehicle, the more options we will have.

5) Know your destination. If you don't know where you are going, how will you know where to turn? Start with eternity. Where are you going? How about 10 years from now? Then 5, 1, 6 months, tomorrow. Without a direction, we wonder aimlessly through life and miss out on opportunities to grow and contribute and become whom we should. By knowing where we are going, difficult decisions become easy because they are made in light of our destination.

Begin today to position and prepare for your future. Make a chart to your destination. Then place one foot in front of the other and get going. It will take time, but 10 years from now will be 10 years no matter what you do today. But what you do today will determine where you are in 10 years. Live higher!