I spent weeks setting up to film my first online class. What began as a white cloth backdrop hanging from an extendable clothes rack with a single clamp light to brighten the shots turned into me filling out a mini filming studio. I hung big felt shapes and used a fake plant to break up the background. I built a makeshift lighting rig for more clamp lights, added a fill, and constructed a teleprompter. I even got a camera remote so I could focus the shots from afar.
After weeks of testing my filming on one side of the room, I moved everything closer to the window-side. I put a mirror on a stool under the camera so I could see what my puppets and I were doing while filming. I bought a teleprompter app and set it up so that I could start scrolling remotely using my phone. I had the scripts ready and formatted so that all I needed to do was go through them once, make minor edits, and then start filming.
When I finally sat down to film, everything went smoothly. It didn’t take long at all for me to get through each lesson. Then more I filmed, the easier it got. All my prep paid off and the part of the process I was most nervous about—I don’t love being in front of a camera—was more or less a breeze. What’s more, I had a lot of fun filming. It felt good to immerse myself in the world I’d created without having to worry about setup hiccups.
One of my favourite stories about the importance of prep time comes from a Thai Massage teacher whom I studied under. He told me that traditional Japanese samurai were chosen as children and then trained for years to become the most skilled warriors. Once they’d beaten their masters in combat, they’d put down their swords and, for seven years, would have to embody what it meant to be a samurai off the battlefield.
After that seven-year period, they would return to fight, now fully a samurai. This is very similar to the include and transcend approach of Integral Coaching®. And while prep of a film set or of the self doesn’t need to take the better part of a decade, it helps to spend some time getting ready for what’s to come. Which is a lesson I’m only learning after years of not preparing much at all and always scrambling to get by.
Prep time can be tedious. It can be exhausting in the way that making small decisions that no one will directly see is tiring. Still, it’s essential to doing your best work. Because all those choices come through in the thing people end up experiencing. And while good enough is an acceptable standard, taking shortcuts with your prep might take away from the final result. Or, at the very least, it will detract from you being able to enjoy the creation process.
So, what part of your life would benefit from more prep time?