One of the secrets of success
You can tell when it’s been done and you can spot when it’s not; as you listen to a talk, watch a presentation or attend a show, you know; if you follow a spor’s team or mark students’ papers, it is obvious whether they have done it; look at a wall in your room or at a person near you, and the appearance will give it away.
There is a story which gets attached to various famous figures about a man who was asked to stand-in one day, for an after dinner speaker who fell ill (or was stuck in traffic, or died, depending on the version). The stand in speaker gave a flawless, witty, moving, challenging, relevant speech of exactly the right duration. An impressed member of the audience asked him how on earth he was able to deliver such a speech with no preparation. “Sir,”’ he replied, “I have been preparing for that speech all my life”.
Preparation is both an acute and a chronic condition: If you have a specific, known task ahead of you then you prepare for that task, but the state of preparedness is built up over time and each feeds the other.
The bible gives numerous examples of both types and we will look at them over the next few weeks. Here are a few top level thoughts, followed by one biblical example:
Firstly, what you need to do to prepare will vary according to what you are preparing for; this is an obvious statement that goes without saying; preparing for a conflict, a presentation, a date, a funeral, your death, your birthday party or a half-marathon will require different strategies.
Secondly, however skilled you are at ‘winging’ it or acting spontaneously, it is an insult to others not to prepare; the reason is that preparation will always improve your delivery.
Thirdly, sometimes learning to prepare is a retrospectiveprocess: if you have done something well, then you can go back and look at how you prepared in order to do well again; of course, if you have done badly, it will help you to decide how to change some of your preparation strategies.
Fourthly, there are always two characters in the delivery process: the ‘you’ (or even group of yous!) who prepares and the ‘you’ who delivers; good preparation succeeds when these two are friends. The ‘you’ who prepares knows what the ‘you’ who delivers needs and provides it in advance; so for example, if the ‘you’ who prepares knows that the ‘you’ who delivers has trouble with describing something in public, then the preparer may put a note ‘slow down and read your script’ as an instruction to help.
Fifthly, preparation is also about preparing yourself for your task.
All of these we will see in biblical formats relevant to work. Here is one example to help you prepare for next week:
The chief executive has died and his assistant has taken over; it is one of the most famous successions in biblical history; it is set in a complex matrix of change but the new boss, Joshua, tells his entire group to “consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you”. The amazing thing was the parting of the river Jordan and the first entry into the Promised Land.
To capture a bit of learning here, you can see that each individual was called upon to prepare themselves. The preparation task was literally to associate themselves with the sacred; the amazing things were outside of their control but the consecration was not.
So here is a thought for you this week: decide to associate yourself and your work with the sacred;. see what you do as worship; connect your thinking with your faith; determine to integrate your steps with God’s instructions; the amazing things will follow. I will now prepare next week’s WORKTALKweekly.
1 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant
of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” 5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” 6 Joshua said to the priests “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.
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