The Preparation Trap (Don’t Get Stuck in the Door)

Hold the door for someone and it is considered polite, but hold the revolving door for someone and it usually won’t be as well received. 

Revolving doors are designed to be walked through. They’re definitely not something you want to get caught up in. 

If you are getting ready to speak. Think about preparation the same way. 

The preparation process is about moving your key message and idea through the process of preparation towards the goal of delivery. From ideation to execution. If we aren’t careful it can be all too easy to find ourselves spinning around in circles caught up in the process.

Take these three examples of how something helpful can become a trap:

1. When Excellence Becomes Perfection

Leaders aspire to excellence over mediocrity. What leader wants to deliver something average? It’s this dedication to excellence that can quickly transition to the insatiable need for PERFECTION. The unrealistic requirement to ‘attain’ the perfect presentation is a never-ending trip around the revolving door.

To avoid the perfection trap ask the question “have I given my best to this?” at each stage of preparation. If the answer if yes, move on through.

2. When Inspiration Becomes Comparison

Seeking out inspiration from other speakers, experts or authors is a great way to build perspective and awareness on a topic. But the quickest way to kill something special is to compare it with something else. COMPARISON is a never ending trip around the revolving door because it is never fully satisfied. People want to connect with you, they can’t do that when you spend all your time trying to be somebody else. 

To avoid the comparison trap ask “why did they” more than “how did they”. Take the time to examine the motivation and not just the application. Learn from everybody, but don’t copy anybody. 

3. When Structure Becomes Inflexibility 

Structure is a great road map, but what happens when things don’t go to plan? What will you do if a twenty five minute presentation is cut short to just five? Planning and creating structure is a necessary process to move through but relying too much on structure can create INFLEXIBILITY. Create a structure rigid enough to chart the course but ensure you stay flexible enough to adjust as you go.

To avoid the inflexibility trap ask the question “if I achieve nothing else, I must achieve_____”.

Preparation is an important and necessary process to move through but it is not a something to get stuck in. Be mindful not to allow these helpful activities to transition to unhelpful cycles.

Can you think of other ways people might get caught up in the preparation process? I’d love to hear what you think.