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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prep, Execute, Learn

Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.  But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead. 
(Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 NLT)

Colin Powell said success was the result of preparation, hard work, but probably most important was this whole concept of learning from failure. We will "try" things and not do as well as we wanted to when we set things in motion with whatever that was supposed to turn out like in the end. We will "try" to make things better in relationship, only to find we still don't possess the "right stuff" we thought we needed - causing us to reach out beyond ourselves if we want things to go any further or get any better than what they are under our own "trial and error" steps. We will "try" to learn to play an instrument, but soon find it takes much more than learning the names of notes on the paper or the location of those notes on the keyboard or strings. Prepare well. Put in the effort. In the off-chance you don't quite "hit the mark" as well as you hoped to, return to the preparation phase and begin again! You aren't finished just because you failed - you are just beginning something new!

No matter how well we plan or how significant our preparations are, we find ourselves committed to a whole lot of hard work to get to the results we desire. This is just part of what it takes to see a job done well, or a relationship knit together in such a deep fashion so as it won't fall apart with the first storm that comes your way. The three are integral in "building" anything that is going to last beyond the "dream" or "imagination" phase - we have to prepare, put in the effort, and realize we might fail - but if we take what we learn from the failure and apply it to how we prepare the next time, we might see different steps which must be taken in order to get different results. As the old adage goes - if we do what we've always done, we'll get what we've always gotten. We cannot expect different results if we don't learn how to alter our preparations and change the way we "do the work"!

While our advice from the scriptures today deals with "investments", let's not close our minds to the fact we have "investments" in much more than stocks and bonds, IRAs and 401Ks. We have investments in family, friends, work relationships, metrics by which we analyze the outcome of our work in our jobs, etc. There are lots and lots of ways we "spread ourselves" among the things we are invested in right now and where we will be placing our invested energies next week. We need to learn to make those investments count - not just spread ourselves so thin between them that we don't really put much into the preparation, execution, and observations we put into or take away from these investments. The more we learn to do a little up-front prep work, the better our execution. The couple who plans the date does a much better job of clearing the way for the date to be a success. The employee who maps our the workflow before undertaking a huge change with the process design learns what steps are integral to the "end result".

God isn't impractical in his "advice" found in scripture. It makes sense! It helps us to take the common, everyday stuff of life and put it into order, so we get the results we hope for in the end. If we don't get those results, either we need to adjust our expectations, or we need to adjust the steps we are taking in order to get them! Just sayin!