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I'm Kirk Wheeler. It's February 17th, 2021. I'm so glad you're here.

Planning is not something I come by naturally. If you were to ask those who know me best, they would more than likely tell you, I struggle with this one. While I normally try to play to my strengths, this is a particular weakness that I continually work on because it can have such a big impact on what I'm able to accomplish.

Failure has definitely been the seed of me learning to prepare better.

"The coach's job is to prepare players to play, and then let them do it. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." –John Wooden

All right, let's do a quick Google search for seed planting checklist. I'm going to click on the second result. And first on the list is start planning your garden in January. Already a little late on this one.

When we are planting anything there's so much to consider, maybe you end up planting your seed at the wrong time of year, or you don't know how much sun or shade your plant needs. I know I'm  over-indexing a little on the garden metaphors here (and I'm not that much of a gardener), but I think it gives you a really good picture of why it's important to prepare.

And one of the most important lessons I've ever learned about planning, is not to over complicate it, and this is still a challenge for me. But for many people, myself included, overlook the basics all the time and go right into the grand strategy.

John Wooden is one of the all time great basketball coaches for his ability to get this one thing right. Over a 12 year stretch between 1964 and 1975. He led the UCLA Bruins basketball team to a record 7 championships in a row. No other team has won more than four. And what has always fascinated me about his record as a coach is how he had a constant focus on the fundamentals.

One of the first lessons he taught his players when they joined the team, was how to put on their socks, and how to tie their shoes. Think about that for a minute, right? These are college freshmen, and before they can go out on the field for the first day of practice, he's going over something as basic as how to tie your shoe.

He thought about the little details and helped his team learn to play from the ground up. Make sure that your socks are on so you don't get blisters. Make sure your shoes are tied, so you don't trip on your shoe laces in practice or the game, so you can focus on what really matters. And I've taken this lesson to heart in many ways, from audio recording to long backpacking trips, to working with my kids.

When we take the time upfront and focus on the basics, we give ourselves permission to get the foundation right. And build from there.

So what's the takeaway? (You have just entered the takeaway zone.)

When the humans you are raising are trying to do anything, from playing basketball, to learning math, to selling girl scout cookies, helping them plan can be a challenge, but if you can help them see the value in slowing down and focusing on the fundamentals, even when it feels like there's a short-term cost, you will be setting them up for long-term success.

And you can always use a catchy phrase like this one from Coach Wooden, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

I hope you find this helpful. Be sure to take care of yourself today, hydrate. And remember, there is no perpetual parenting playbook. We're all learning as we go. And with curiosity as our map and a willingness to prepare, we can be ready for anything.

So good luck. You've got this. I'm rooting for you.

With gratitude,