Preparation is an essential key to achieving any kind of success whether it is in Chiropractic, sport, the Arts, or life in general. If you are like me, you get inspired and excited when experiencing peak performance. Have you ever watched two elite athletes battle in competition, or be present in an arena listening to a world class orchestra or legendary rock band? It is an amazing experience.
Abraham Lincoln said that if he was given six hours to cut down a tree, he would spend the first four sharpening his axe. That’s how much he valued preparation.
For many, when the word preparation is mentioned, the great coach and mentor John Wooden is brought to mind. John Wooden coached the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team from 1948-1975 during which time he won an unprecedented ten National Championships. He coached players by the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton on some of those teams. What was interesting about Coach Wooden was that he rarely spoke about winning with his teams. Instead he put hard work, character, leadership skills and preparation as his main priorities.
Wooden derived his greatest satisfaction from preparation. He compared going after a goal like taking a journey to an inn/hotel. For him, the journey (preparation) was far more important to put all of your time and focus on, rather than the inn (goal/outcome). A goal is the by-product of all the good work and preparation you put in along the way.
According to John C. Maxwell, people often don’t prepare for two main reasons. The first is that people fail to see the value of preparation. The second is that they fail to appreciate the value of discipline. In many instances, the act of preparation can take considerably more time and effort than the actual event being prepared for. Take, for example, Olympic athletes who train and prepare for at least four years for an event that may last from only 10 to 120 seconds.
Prior preparation promotes peak performance in many ways. One way is that it can help you discover if something is worth doing. What a shame it would be to spend years on working towards a goal only to discover it wasn’t what you wanted when you finally achieved it. The time saved from not doing the wrong project significantly outweighs the time save to research it. One way to help understand if something is worth doing is to undertake a Goal Qualifier process. During this process, you ask yourself/team a number of questions such as…”Is this goal in line with our values?”, “What are the possible obstacles?”, “What resources do I need?”, “Is it ecological – safe for me, for others, for the environment?”, “Is there another project that can give us a better return on investment?”. If after asking these and other questions you still feel inspired about pursuing the project, chances are it will take you in the right direction.
A second way preparation promotes peak performance is that the act of preparation can actually end up creating a plan to follow and achieve your goals. This propels action and can also have the benefit of improving the speed/efficiency of reaching your goal by researching how others have done it in the past, what systems can be used, etc. An action step here is to have all team members write out all actions that they need to do to perform at their peak. Get as specific as possible and don’t overemphasize results (ie. Increase sales 20%). Instead focus on skills or activities that the team member needs to do the most effectively in order to produce the result (ie. Make 5 more calls each week, enhance rapport skills, etc.).
Thirdly, preparation can help you take advantage of opportunities when they arise. You’ve probably heard it said that luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Opportunities can come without warning and are often only available for a short period of time. If you are not prepared at that point in time, it will be too late to take advantage of the opportunity. It is wise to build skills and knowledge on a daily basis even when there is no current project on your desk. It is amazing that the very act of preparation often attracts opportunities that allow you to use that preparation to advance your life! Block out one or two hours daily for planning on a daily basis.
Fourthly, preparation allows you to tap into your talent. Let’s say, hypothetically, that there were two athletes of equal talent, and both had one year to prepare for an event. Athlete A decides to do very little preparation and Athlete B goes all out. Chances are very good that Athlete B will have a much better performance even though the level of talent is initially equal.
Finally, prior preparation can help to create confidence. Often, people can feel a sense of anxiety or fear when faced with a challenge. Anthony Robbins says that the antidote to fear is preparation. If you can get excited and motivated to take on a challenge, this will in turn fuel your preparation and if we are fully prepared, our level of confidence soars. Having confidence is a vital component to performing at your peak.
How can we apply these concepts within the chiropractic practice? Coach Wooden has spoken of the four P’s – planning, preparation, practice and performance – and that we should give these our highest priority over winning.
Planning can take the form of creating a five or ten year business plan for your practice. Where do you want to go and how will you get there? Writing down what your ideal practice day or what your ideal client looks like. Planning your holidays for the year so that you can hire locums in advance or planning your day so that you know what your priorities are.
Preparation can entail learning a new technique, studying office scripts, learning responses to common questions and objections, ordering stock in advance so that you don’t run short, working on becoming the type of person you want to be to live your ideal life, or taking action on wealth strategies to take advantage of future opportunities.
Practice can take the form of role playing with your team. During each team meeting, there is a tremendous opportunity to focus on the ‘journey’ and practice even the smallest and simplest of skills to mastery. Practice putting yourself into an empowering state each morning so that you are at your peak when you begin adjusting each day. Practice self-acknowledgment, helping others, and gratitude on a daily basis to maximize your effect on the world.
Performance is the point where you take all your preparation and put it into action. Evaluate your performance regularly to look for ways to improve and to congratulate yourself and your team. If you feel that you did everything you could to prepare and performed at your absolute best, then that is all anyone can ask of you, even if the score didn’t go your way on that day. Feel proud of your efforts, and seek ways to perform even better next time.
A fifth ‘P’ that can be added is Presence. Creating a continual awareness of your thinking, your feelings and your behaviour while staying in present time consciousness will help propel you to peak performance rapidly.
Prior preparation promotes peak performance is a phrase that you must adopt for success. Use the “5 P’s” to your advantage so that you can fully prepare for whatever challenge lies ahead of you. As John Wooden said, “In anything, failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”