On Preparation & Informed Impulsivity

— 4 minute read

I'm slowly coming to understand the meaning behind "we're all side characters in someone else's story."

We have fleeting moments, glimpses of each other's lives; holding, for a brief moment, a shared space at that location, at that time.

Then, it's gone.

Who you just met will be a different person tomorrow, continuing their own journey's through life. Even if you're living in the same apartment with the same someone from one March to another: the other's been through internal journeys that you may have no idea of.

On Preparation permalink

I grew up participating in Boy Scouts, from Tenderfoot to Second or First Class. I sold popcorn, volunteered, went to scout meetings and events, Pine Wood Derby races, Scout Camps: all in pursuit of learning new skills and getting new badges.

The one thing I will never forget—nor forget to live by—is the Boy Scout Motto:

Be prepared.

Being prepared is also one of the things I feel I'm worst at. Some people say I'm one of the most organized people they've ever met. Others are convinced I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached.

Those closest to me—parents and partner, in particular—understand me a bit different. Whenever any decision comes, especially big ones, a lot of the time they'll respond: we're sure you've gone through everything and planned it all out.

If I need to explain why I did a thing, without some paper with it written out or a pen to write it out, I quickly come across unprepared. Especially in the workplace, where these moments with Senior Leaders are extremely hard to come by, and then...oh! Right! Words!

"On demand" working memory—accessing specific facts, sources, and knowledge on demand—is an energetic leech: sucking resources to find the associative pathway that could, more or less, take me to comfort & confidence in the thing.

It's one of the reasons I always say, "Put it on paper."

Informed Spontaneity permalink

Like I need to have my planned spontaneous times sometimes, I also have come to call this experience informed spontaneity.

A few examples of how this looks like in real life:

Speaking & Presentations permalink

Most of the times I've spoken or given presentations, they've been seemingly spontaneous, sprouting from desperate calls for volunteers. Sometimes I raised my hand, sometimes I was voluntold.

I've never reflected at the total amount of preparation and lessons I've had on public speaking over the years. It's the forgetfulness of the "now", but the skills and preparation are underneath.

The two most memorable of those courses, for my own record, was my first—a community college public speaking course offered at the highschool—and one I traveled for—a day long Do Workshop in London.

In the former, I brought the family dog in as an interactive prop. The latter, the first presentation I swore in—to feel how it fit.

Moving to the Netherlands permalink

Since I studied World History my first or second year of highschool, I've always been interested in the vastness of interesting things. I grew up as part of a small beach community, but there was a whole planet of possible adventures.

Six months before graduating University, I was waking up at three or four o'clock in the morning: sending cold emails to design agencies, firms, and studios around the world. I wanted to travel, learn, and experience all sorts of experiences I had always read about or hadn't even new existed.

I was able to find a job a city away, and really grew happy there. My first after-Uni work experience was in a beautiful renovated tobacco factory, surrounded by and supporting startups at a small tech service business. I left the focus of exploring the world at large, enjoying the newness of the world next door.

One night, late and tipsily laying in bed after a successful bike ride—to and fro—trivia night at a local pub, I went on Dribbble; looking for any interactions to a post, casually putting my resume into European cities. You never know what could happen.

One company I didn't remember applying for in Amsterdam emailed me back and scheduled me for the first interview. Then the second. Then I was flown out for the final.

What I hadn't planned for, expected, or had even thought it would be a goal I reached anytime soon: I got a job and moved to the Netherlands in four months.

The Four Points permalink

  1. We're all side characters to other's stories.
  2. Because of that, we don't see the everything of each other: we contain multitudes.
  3. Even then, preparation can be invisible or layered through time, unrecognized in name and practice.
  4. Impulsively decided doesn't mean it's not informed.

In sum: you do you; put it on paper. permalink