“Be prepared.” Lieutenant-General Baden-Powell first coined the term in 1907. It later became the motto for the Boy Scouts of America. Baden-Powell wrote that the motto means, “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.” In the late 1800’s, the world was on the verge of a great war. Baden-Powell wanted young people equipped to react quickly to an emergency.
We still do this today. We prepare for emergencies by having drills. We learn where the exits are, where it is safe to meet after exiting a building, or what to do if we are unable to leave, like in a lockdown drill. Preparing for such an emergency could mean the difference between life and death.
Being prepared isn’t just about being safe. Preparation is essential for any successful venture. Great athletes understand that preparation is crucial for winning. They don’t become champions when they win the event, but in the time that they spend preparing for it. They could spend weeks, months, or even years honing their skills. That winning goal, speed, or distance is just a demonstration of their successful character through preparation.
I’m not an athlete, but I still believe that preparation is key to my success. When I write a book, I plot out the story and research characters options. I devise scenes and conflict that will drive the story forward.
I similarly prepare before I illustrate. I am currently working on some illustrations for the SCBWI’s Traveling Sketchbook. My watercolor additions began a couple of weeks ago. As soon as I found out the type and size of the scrapbook, I started brainstorming ideas.
I made multiple sketches in my sketchbook before the official one arrived at my home. I was eager to start right away, but I still had a little more preparation. I worked on placement of my drawings, and the type of media I would use.
Even when I was ready to create the final works, I had to prepare. I gathered all of my supplies together. Paint pens, water, brushes, sketches, and my all important cup of coffee were at the ready. It is this preparation that enables me to create art.
Life is full of preparation. We prepare for college, jobs, and weddings. Consider all of the planning that goes into weddings these days. We have to pick a date and choose a venue. We make a guest list and send out invitations. We have to pick dresses for the bride and bride’s maids, select a wedding cake, and decide on music for the reception. All this prep work for one day.
Preparing for special days can take a while. Christians have a season called Advent, the four weeks right before Christmas when we prepare for the coming of Jesus. Tax season is also a time for preparation, although not as much fun. Businesses calculate numbers and send forms off to employees and the government. As an individual, we take time to collect all of our paperwork before filing on or before April 15. If we prepare properly, we won’t have any nasty surprises, like an audit.
Whether you’re an artist, athlete, or merely a scout, with a little forethought and planning you can succeed. Are you prepared? Are you ready for success?