Yesterday morning, as I prepared to leave my house for the office, I brewed a cup of coffee into one of my favorite travel mugs.
This wasn’t just any morning… It was the first day back at the office after New Years, so I think you’ll agree that it was important to be properly caffeinated. It was also the first morning following a vicious cold-snap, and several inches of snow had fallen overnight. As is usual, every driver was surprised that Columbus, Ohio should experience snow in January and they seemed to have forgotten how to drive on the slippery, wet, white stuff (a friend of mine once remarked that Columbus driving skills were “water soluble”), leading to delays and accidents during the commute. So again, you can see how important having that hot mug of medium roast coffee (with just a bit of cream) to keep me sated and warm and distracted from the cold, slow-moving traffic (and idiot drivers) would have been that morning.
And this wasn’t just any coffee… It was delicious, locally roasted, small batch, fair-trade coffee that I purchased from my friends at Crimson Cup. I get the new single-serve capsules that fit into my Keurig brewer. I was really looking forward to the slow drive (giving me time to think in the car) and my flavorful coffee to get my day off to a great start and prepare myself from whatever opportunities might come my way on this frosty day.
Sounds great, right?
I’ve got everything planned out, I’m well-prepared for the obstacles that will likely come my way, and my attitude is a positive one — determined to make the best of what will be a challenging morning.
The problem is, I left all that preparation on the table.
Once I hit the first jam-up at the traffic light a couple blocks away, I reached over the take a sip of my coffee (which I was already mentally congratulating myself on having the foresight to prepare) and quickly realized that I didn’t have it with me! I left the house with my hands full of laptop bag, keys, gloves, mobile phone, and whatever else I was carrying that morning — but left my mug of coffee sitting on the dining room table!
What are YOU leaving on the table?
What classes have you taken, seminars have you attended, books have you read, and mentors have you spoken to which you knew would make a huge positive difference in your personal and professional life, but then didn’t use what you’d learned when the opportunity arose?
All the time and preparation you take in exposing yourself to the content and advice that you believe will help you advance, or the tools and technology you invest in to make your life more ordered and convenient are really only effective if you carry them with you and get in the habit of using them when the moment of truth arrives.
If you simply buy the books and leave them on the shelf, or read them but don’t study them, or study them but don’t put them into practice — you’re just leaving it all on the table. And if you’re leaving it on the table, then you’re not using it, and certainly not benefiting from all your personal preparation.
By all means prepare, but carry that preparation with you so that you’re prepared to ACT.