Monday, May 23, 2011

Preparation: Choices Made from Lessons Learned

“You may not be able to prepare for everything, but you can certainly be prepared for anything!” Jennifer Scott

I have a shining example of the importance of preparation as evidenced by my 5 year old yesterday morning. He decided he wanted to paint. This was a big decision and required many little decisions to be made before he could begin. First, he needed to have enough forethought about his end product to determine what kind of painting he wanted. Was it to be large, or small? Was he going to use white paper or manila? Was it going to be a gift? Was it to hang on the wall? And, perhaps most importantly, what type of paint was to be used?

You may be wondering why exactly this was all so important. Let me rewind for you… The last time my son decided he wanted to paint he did not think things through. Lessons learned were many. Number one: Poster paint and water colors do not work the same way. Water colors blend and make pretty shades. Mixing poster paint makes mud. Number two: Manila paper holds more paint than white easel paper, which when wet, rips very easily. Number three: You have to be willing to part with a gift, or at least be willing to paint a second masterpiece. Number four: Paint spills easily.

So, choices made from lessons learned, and preparation continued. Next came set up. He decided to paint at the kitchen table. He needed the paper, his paints and brushes, water, and a roll of paper towels. We set him up and off he went. Sort of. My son is very particular... (I wonder where he gets that from…) He wanted to decide what the subject matter was to be before he began (another critical step in preparing for success demonstrated…) I won’t get into the end results in case there are any child psychologists reading… but suffice to say I have a beautiful painting now hanging on my office wall.

What I was reminded of was that preparation for any task, large or small, work or play is an absolute requirement for success. If we hadn’t remembered the paper towels, for example, the blue paint which ultimately colored the river would have been the size of a lake, and on my kitchen floor instead of on the paper. Mental preparation (getting over the fear of the giant mess form last week), careful planning, and physical set up of workspace all came into play. If it’s so helpful to a 5 year old, imagine what it could do for me…

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