Not yet was his unspoken mantra — or so it seemed. He never would have admitted that, of course.
But to his friend, it felt like that was Lachlan’s slogan. It became a kind of running joke. He was always doing something to get ready.
Collecting books could have been a full time job for him. 20 or 30 books on any topic he was interested in lined the shelves in his living room.
He could tell you all the things you needed to do to start a business, though he had never actually done any of them.
Talking about his goals and the things he would do, “someday” seemed to be his favorite hobby. He could tell you all the steps to follow to be happy and fulfilled (afterall, he’d read many books and attended tons of workshops on the subject), but he never seemed quite fulfilled himself.
Lachlan prepared in this way for over nearly twenty years of his adult life. He was always getting ready to follow his purpose and pursue his dreams. But each time it came down to just do it, he had a mile long list of reasons why it wasn’t time yet.
Then, one day, in his attempt to further clarify his purpose (endless clarifying is a seductive trap), he hired a coach.
At the end of their first session the coach asked him a very simple, yet disturbing question:
When will you have prepared enough to actually start living?
He felt like a truck had just slammed into his chest. His lips tried to move, but his mind was blank. He’d run out of excuses.
It was finally time to just fucking do it.
Does this story sound familiar?
Every single one of us at one point or another has lived a version of this story. Maybe for you it’s been a few months, maybe it’s been your whole life.
The Myth is the same no matter the case:
More preparation needs to happen before I can follow my purpose.
This, my friend, is a lie.
So, why do we mistakenly believe that more preparation is always the answer?
What underlies this search that sends men and women to their graves with unrequited passions?
I’m going to lay out the top four reasons we get caught in what I call the Preparation Trap, and the antidote for each one.
Trap #1: I need more clarity
This is the most seductive and insidious of all the Preparation Traps.
The difficult part about this trap is that sometimes you really do need more clarity. You need to figure out where the hell you’re going if you want to start taking the steps to get there.
Constantly second guessing whether you’re going in the right direction and stopping to rethink where you’re going is the trap. (Constantly rerouting to find the perfect route before you start taking action is another trap to look out for too. The perfect route is the one you actually take.)
Ultimately, you gain clarity about where you need to go most through action. Thinking about it will only get you so far.
How to escape this trap: Set a deadline for when you’ll decide the direction you’re going. Commit to that purpose for a set amount of time, and get support publicly if possible so you have consequences for backing out or changing directions.
Trap #2: I need to be a master, then I can teach
This fatal trap has the potential to cause you to wait to teach until you’re dead (I guess in that case you wouldn’t teach at all).
You may never become a master. Anyway, mastery is highly subjective. How will you know if you’ve arrived or have become good enough?
Some would argue that mastery doesn’t even exist. I’m inclined to agree.
It’s something to aim for, but you cannot let achieving ultimate greatness in your field for you to start sharing your work.
If one thing is true, “masters” become masters through teaching and sharing. Translating your work to help others and shipping your gifts forces you to take your understanding to the next level.
How to escape this trap: Spend an hour journaling on all the things you’ve accomplished, studied and have immersed yourself in to become an authority. Who cares if you have a piece of paper? Can you help others? Have you made an impact? What will be enough for you to be ready to share and teach?
Trap #3: Preparing is the responsible thing to do
Our culture heralds those that are well-prepared and have sacrificed to get to where they want to go. But what’s underneath this is a self-perpetuating mechanism that creates more preparation.
Not yet seems to be our country’s creed. Just one more degree, just one more promotion, just one more… WAKE UP. Your life is passing you by.
Stop waiting for something to be happy. Don’t get caught up in thinking that you need to prepare more in order to help someone or give your gifts.
Now is the perfect time to put your offering out into the world.
How to escape this trap: Get angry. Write out all the ways that climbing the ladder and trying to fulfill prerequisites to be ready has caused you to suffer. If you didn’t have to live by society’s rules, how would you create your work on your own terms?
Trap #4: I need more knowledge/information/data
Again, how much information will be enough? Do you need to read 20 books? 50? 1,000?
Amassing data and loads or information will only take you so far. You might be a walking encyclopedia of information exercise programming, but what use it if you haven’t embodied any of it?
Education is incredibly valuable, but it’s only useful when it makes a tangible difference in your life.
How to escape this trap: Decide how much education you need now. What will be enough for you to start giving your gifts? Every time you read a book in your field or learn something new, aim to immediately apply it somehow in the real world.
Training is obviously necessary to increase your capacity. Practice and continuing education is immensely valuable.
Want to ask better questions to be a more effective coach? Study and learn from other coaches and you will increase your capacity.
But this capacity is useless if you never ask the questions.
Get to good enough, then apply. Don’t wait until you’re a master (you might never be).