I was failing junior-year Chemistry class in the Spring of 1999.
With only one quarter of the school year remaining, my mother insisted on helping me get the grade up to at least a D, which would allow me to dodge summer school (which isn’t free).
With assurance that better test scores would indeed fetch me a passing grade in the class from Mrs. Stubbs my chemistry teacher, mom began tutoring me on the chemistry textbook material. Being a teacher herself, Mom had an innate feel for which material I needed to know for passing the tests (which basically sums up the American educational system)
All school year, I had been taking all 50 minutes of a class period struggling to scrape up answers to test questions, failing miserably at it (obviously).
After my parental tutoring began, the next test Mrs. Stubbs gave I completed in ten minutes. Mrs. Stubbs graded it immediately — 94%. She announced it to the class and jokingly asked me who had supplied me with the test answers.
[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”h4″ animation=”none” background=”plain”]30 Days To Discipline: Finish What You Start. Complete Focus. Delete Distractions.[/dt_quote]
That experience was a glowing billboard for a principle I now have tattooed on my left bicep: Preparation.
I was so prepared for that chemistry test, it was easy — too easy. I could’ve answered another 20 questions and probably raised my score. To everyone else in the room that day — teacher included — my performance didn’t even seem real.
All these years later, I still strive to achieve the same level of preparation for my performances: in games as an athlete; on stage as a speaker; on the mic as a podcast host or guest.
As a basketball player, at every single professional exposure camp (think “job fair,” but for playing a sport) I attended, there were always a handful of guys who were so out of shape, they’d be wheezing for breath during warm ups.
Many podcasters, when having me on as a guest, have began providing their lists of questions before the interview (which I admittedly almost never read, as I like to speak honestly as in a normal conversation).
When I speak to conference event planners these days, every one whom I ask what they’ve liked best in past presenters references a speaker’s preparation for their time on stage as a huge plus.
All of my key life performances — that fateful senior year varsity basketball tryout, my first exposure camp experience, my first professional speaking gig in 2015 — were the result of me being so ready physically and mentally before the event, as to be overprepared. Each time, I did great, and had even more game, energy and material than I got the chance to show.
I’m on a plane right now, going to speak at a conference in Seattle this weekend. I am almost sure I have more material than I’ll have time to present it.
And that’s my favorite feeling.
30 Days To Discipline is my blueprint for perfect, consistent preparation.
P.S. My bitch chemistry teacher Mrs. Stubbs still gave me an F in that class. And summer school was a joke.