Whether you attend a community theater performance, lecture, school or civic function, town council meeting, professional sporting event, or just turn on your television, you expect the people “entertaining” or informing you to have prepared. You expect their attire to be in accordance with their performance. You expect them to know something about their topic or know their lines. You expect to have your questions answered. You expect them to have PRACTICED. Practice does make perfect.
We have all prepared for events where we had eyes and ears on us. In my job, the expectation that I will have to speak publicly or in a meeting is almost a daily given. Even if I don’t know exactly what to expect, it never hurts to practice what I know and to come as prepared as I possibly can. It shows respect for those attending the meetings and for myself. This respect for others and self promotes confidence in the workplace and in the community as a whole – not just for me.
I attended a school event earlier this week where those in charge had ill prepared. Not only were their speeches clearly off-the-cuff; the presenters were under dressed. I left having little confidence in the school’s ability to carry out their mission and worried about those in their charge. I have not been able to shake my irritation. Those in authority had not prepared. I felt – and still feel – disrespected. More importantly, I feel the students were disrespected.
Anything worthwhile takes time. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about research indicating anyone who reaches the highest levels of mastery in any endeavor has generally practiced for about ten thousand hours. He asserts the research proves that it takes the human brain about ten thousand hours to process all it needs to know to become truly proficient. Now, I don’t propose that everyone needs ten thousand hours of practice for everything they do. But the lesson I take from Gladwell’s work is this: practice and preparation are necessary.
True mastery and the confidence it brings to yourself and those around you does not happen by accident. It takes repeated practice and preparation to evoke the trust of others and to move your mission, your talent, your career, or your family forward. True style cannot be faked. It must be practiced.
Until next time, respect yourself and others by being prepared for your obligations. Practice a little, at least, before you show up. Winging it doesn’t cut it.