The Discipline Of Preparation – 5 Ways To Prepare For The Outcomes We Desire


The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.


As long as I can remember, I have always taken great pride in keeping a nice lawn.  I may have been influenced by my Grandpa Miller who always kept his lawn green and well manicured when I was younger.  My obsession with a nice lawn may also have been shaped by my experience as a teenager cutting people’s lawns throughout the area.


When we moved into our brand new house over nine years ago, I was committed to making sure m lawn was well maintained.  Once our grass started coming in, I fertilized it.  I aerated it.  I watered it.  And I did my best to make sure it was cut just right with straight lines or near perfect geometric shapes.

One summer, I decided to let it go, and I was left with a burned out, weed infested mess.  My grass was gone, and there were ugly weeds everywhere.

This year, we have experienced an unusual spring drought.  My grass started turning brown before Memorial Day this year, and I knew it could only get worse without significant rain.

Over the past week, the rain arrived and lasted for a few days giving my lawn the drink it needed.  And my grass started growing again.  Tuesday night, I decided to cut the grass after work and dinner.  I opened the shed and backed my John Deere lawn tractor out of the shed.  I turned the blades on, and I began to move forward across my lawn.

It didn’t take long to see there was something wrong.  The blades on my mower were turning, but they were struggling to leave a nice clean cut.  In fact, there were many parts of the lawn that looked like a bad haircut.  I had to overlap my driving pattern and cut the lawn multiple times to get it looking even.  I didn’t have time to stop and sharpen the blades the other night as the rest of my week was very busy, but I ended up spending a lot more time cutting the grass because of the dull blades.

This weekend, I’ll be climbing under my tractor to remove the blades so I can sharpen them for the next mowing.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of proper preparation.  The discipline of preparation can be a real challenge for many of us.  We lack the patience to wait long enough to make sure we are ready to tackle a project or task.  And then, we’re left disappointed my an outcome that doesn’t measure up to our expectations.

If we want to avoid this disappointment, it’s time we practice the discipline of preparation.  Here are # ways to prepare so we can experience the outcome of our desires:

5 Ways To Prepare For The Outcomes We Desire

  1. Read the instructions.  I’m a pretty handy guy.  As a mechanical engineer, I sometimes think I can get away with doing something without reading the directions.  I’ve learned though that the directions help you prepare.  When you bake a cake, you don’t through random ingredients into a pan and hope it turns into a cake.  You read the instructions to make sure you have the proper tools and ingredients to be successful.
  2. Request help.  I like to do things all by myself.  The reality is there are many people who have done things in life already that I’m pursuing now.  Asking for help is important to the preparation process.  My wife’s dad was the first one to show me how to remove my tractor mower blades.  He knew how to do it, because he had done it before on his own tractor.
  3. Rehearse the project in your head or on paper before you start.  Before you set out on a journey, you want to make sure you have the right equipment.  You go over your gear again and again to make sure you don’t miss a key item.  My son is getting ready to go to Philmont Scout Reservation for two weeks of hiking and camping in New Mexico.  He has been practicing and preparing for this trip for months.  While this trip will be a challenge, I’m confident he will be successful, because he has put in adequate preparation.
  4. Reserve the time required to prepare appropriately.  When I decided to cut my grass on Tuesday night, I should have given myself more time to check the sharpness of the blades.  Because I was in a hurry, I cut my grass with dull blades.  Build time in your schedule for preparation.
  5. Remember your past failures caused by poor preparation.  Sometimes the best preparation tool is the memory of our past failures.  Don’t let your past go to waste.  Learn, grow, and move forward having made the necessary corrections.

I like this quote by Abraham Lincoln who gives valuable insight into the discipline of preparation:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

One word of caution:  Don’t fall into the trap of over-analysis.  Over-analysis leads to paralysis which leads to lack of action and ineffective action.  Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to prepare move forward with confidence knowing you’ve put yourself in a position to succeed.

How would your world be different if you made the decision to practice the discipline of preparation?  How has preparation made a difference in your life?