What is a life? Practice, Plan, Prepare (Repeat)

Every week, I interview a woman I admire for Mission Driven Monday, and every week we ask the same three questions:

1) What are you the most proud of?

2) What are you learning right now, in this season?

3) And tell me about your aspirational future, the future YOU. Who do you want to be?

I have loved these interviews because I’ve learned so much about the people in my life, some who have entered it for a specific season and others who are part of my core team.

During introductions, I talk about some of the big things they’ve done in their lives, some of which are very impressive, but when I ask them the question, “What are you most proud of?” common answers include:

  • Staying the course

  • Persevering through the hard stuff

  • Wanting to quit, but keeping going

  • All the little things that have made me who I am

And it made me think about how we’re all just waiting for that one big break, the big opportunity that will make all our wildest dreams come true. And for some of us certainly there are pivotal circumstances. Some of us are outliers and have met interesting people or been in the right place at the right time, but more often than not, it’s the consistent, daily deposits that have truly shaped who we are today.

All those successes and failures rest not on one big opportunity but on the habits cultivated by a lifetime of consistency.

It would be easy to give up.

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
— Bill Gates

Sometimes it’s only by looking back that we are able to see that it’s all the things we did leading up to the big break are the things that made the difference.

I just finished reading the book, Sully, by Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed the irreparably damaged Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009. Hailed as a hero, his life has not been the same since that one event. Precious few chapters of the 350+ page book are devoted to the events that actually transpired that day. (The entire flight lasted just five minutes). Everything Sully and the crew did to land that plane was the result of careful practice, planning, and preparation. Not only had he logged 20,000 flight hours by the time he took to the sky on that fateful day in 2009, but years prior he had started a corporate safety consulting firm, and spent his formative years training as a fighter pilot with the US Air Force Academy. All that routine stuff wasn’t routine at all; it was the foundation for the remarkable event that catapulted his life and career into the stratosphere.

What are you doing to practice, plan, and prepare for your big moment?

The success or failure of your own life defining moments will rest on the merits of what you did every single day leading up to it.

Do not despise this small beginning, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.
— Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

We don’t get our kids when they’re teenagers because we need all those years leading up to the drama of it to prepare. We can’t be the boss at our first job because we haven’t got the experience. And despite really, really wanting to be a fluent in Spanish or a concert pianist, I know it’s impossible without practice.

That’s why what you’re learning in this season, right this very moment, is so important—because when you think about your aspirational future, the future you, you need to know what it takes to make those dreams come true.

Moments make a life.

Ask anyone who has had to say goodbye to someone they loved.

Of course they remember the big stuff—the wedding, the birthdays, the promotions—but it is often the small stuff—the way they chewed their meat or got dressed in the morning that evoke the sharpest emotion. The fingerprint they left on the world was forged through all the small decisions they made, the everyday kind of stuff that’s boring and predictable—and necessary.

Anytime is a great time to begin thinking about what we can plan, practice, and prepare.

Think about what makes you proud. Are you persevering in the midst of insurmountable challenges or feeling crushed under the weight of responsibility and redundancy? What are you learning right now, in this season? And when you think about your future—what’s the plan? Are you prepared? Are you practicing?

Ready to take it to the next level?