Proper preparation is a prerequisite for perfect performance

Mar 25, 2018

There are a thousand ways to reduce stress and anxiety but here is my top tip for making your working day

Confidence and competence are inextricably linked… the better you are at something the more confident you will be about doing it and the more confident you are about doing it the lower your stress levels will be. A little bit of performance anxiety is a good thing, that little kick of adrenalin keeps us on our toes, but too much adrenalin and what is supposed to be a confident and poised performance will degenerate into a wobbly mess.

As much as it pains me to admit this, a little bit of preparation OCD goes an awful long way to reducing stress levels. As a child I wondered why my grandfather always put his woodworking tools away in exactly the same place every evening. Why not leave them out on the workbench, you’re going to need them in the morning when you start again? After years of always hunting for “that particular screwdriver” I now understand what he was doing… If everything is in its proper place then, when it is needed, I know exactly where to look. There is no stress, it is just where it should be.

The same is true in every walk of life. If we create little rituals and foster a little OCD we can reduce the anxiety associated with preparing to deliver a ceremony. I’ve created little systems for pretty much every aspect of my business. Today I have a family meeting first thing followed by a funeral. I’ve already written the name of the deceased, their next of kin, when and where the funeral is and other useful information at the top of the next blank page in my notebook so that when I’m standing on the doorstep of their home in an hour’s time I’ll have all the important stuff at my fingertips. Similarly, everything I need for the funeral is already in the car. I’ve run down the checklist so I won’t suddenly start worrying about having forgotten a tie for the funeral whilst I’m half way through the family meeting.

When I feel the anxiety rising (as it often does, even for me) I can simply remind myself that I’ve been through the checklist and everything is in order.

Proper preparation is a prerequisite for perfect performance… it is the difference between the amateur and the professional.