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By guest blogger Lex McKee
“You shall have my axe!” is the cry of commitment from Gimli in, Lord of the Rings. That axe, fit for battle, would have been sharp. That axe, ready for the task, would have no spot of rust. That axe would have been prepared, fit for purpose.
Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” That’s 66.6% of time invested in preparation!
If we are to serve the transition this world needs urgently to make to a more enlightened state, we will need all four elements.
I’ve learned a couple of fascinating matters recently… as one who is primarily in my element in the fire of inspiration, possibility, and opportunities. Firstly, my radio show demands no preparation. The computer is well able to populate my playlist with the diversity of tracks we need to keep the demographic of our listeners happy. I can safely babysit the playlist and provide the ‘human’ side of continuity and chat to my breakfast audience. The improvisational skills of my inner fire can do this – “I’ve got this!” Except this produces a show that is firing at about 25% of its potential.
No clarity, no calm, no firmness. Instead, inspired by some professional training at last, after 4 years in community radio, I now spend 8 hours preparing a 2 hour ‘live’ show. I sharpen my axe before I wield it! And it serves me well!
That massive commitment to preparation is rooted in the most important lesson I heard at the very beginning of my career in training. I can remember it so well. It was my very first experience of ‘Corporate Training’. A Danish company, ‘Time Manager International’, was called in to turn the fortunes of Electrical Goods Retailer ‘Dixons’ around. The programme that everyone in the company was put through was called, “Putting People First.”
On this programme I was introduced to practical applications of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Transactional Analysis for the first time. It took my breath away. At the end of two amazing days, I went up to the presenters and asked, “How do you do what you do?” They almost winked at one another. One said to me, “Do you want to know the secret?” “Yes!” I burst out. “It’s two words…” I leaned forward to catch the two words, raising my eyebrows as if to encourage them to share them… “Rehearsed spontaneity!” were the two words.
The presenter expanded, “Everything you saw that looked spontaneous was rehearsed.” Like great comedians, every moment of their ‘show’ was rehearsed for many, many hours in advance. There were no surprises – success was scripted. They had sharpened their axe.
As we move into a new season of opportunity, imagine what you could achieve with a commitment to spending 60% of your time crafting the ‘perfect’ learner experience. Trust me, my new-style radio shows deliver far more satisfaction to me, and, more importantly to my audience.
A wonderful reminder about facilitation’s combination of freshness and spontaneity with experience and solid planning. Thank you!