How NOT to succeed at something

Posted on Updated on

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Luck doesn’t bring success, neither does lack of preparation.  Here’s a personal account that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.  This example is about exercise, but this article is not.

I started a new exercise regime in May called The Bar Method.  Each one hour session “integrates the fat burning format of interval training, the muscle shaping technique of isometrics, the elongating principles of dance conditioning, and the science of physical therapy.”  Let me just tell you that after the very first session, I realized how out of shape I was – evidenced a day later by my inability to get out of a seated position without using both hands braced on the seat for leverage, combined with much grunting, groaning, and “Oh my Gods!”

Line art drawing of push up.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward several weeks and I became a devotee who takes Bar classes twice a week at the studio, and four times a week I do interim supportive training in my mini home gym using a recumbent bike, weights (only 2 lb and 4 lb) and lots of push ups and planks.  I quickly realized that if I do my part at home, I benefit even more from the Bar classes.  Woohoo!

This past Thursday, I went to class having had a miserable night’s sleep the night before: couldn’t fall asleep, couldn’t stay asleep – you get the drill.  Although I made it through the one hour class, I struggled greatly throughout and failed to receive all of the benefits.  Without adequate sleep, my body was not armed with the stamina it needed to get the job done.  You’d think that one lousy night’s sleep would not jeopardize the success of my workout the next day.  Evidently that one factor nullified all the other preparations I had made in the days leading up to the class.

Alright, no more talk of exercise.

The point I want to make is that if you go into a task without all the needed preparation, you’re not prepared at all.  It’s as simple as that.

What good is completing three of four steps of a presentation for a meeting, if all three rely on the fourth step that you didn’t complete?  What a bloody waste of your time and that of everyone else at the meeting.

What kind of roof will a roofer be able to lay if he or she brings all the tools and most of the roofing materials, but no nails?  “But I have everything else I need, don’t I get credit for that?”  Nope!

Follow Abe Lincoln’s way of preparing for a task: you won’t chop down any trees with a dull axe.