My family and I drove about 42 hours roundtrip over the holiday break. I'm very fortunate to be married to the consummate planner, and her skills shone through on this trip just like every other. We had everything we could possibly need over the course of four days on the road, staying in a hotel and four different homes. We had snacks and games and a fully stocked medicine kit. She worked tirelessly the few days before the trip to make sure we had everything we could possibly need. One thing she didn't do, however, was make sure our car was serviced the day before we left.
My wife not taking the car to shop for a quick tuneup the day before our trip wasn't an oversight or a failure. It was yet another example of my wife's experience and wisdom. Having grown up around mechanics and having taken many road trips over the years, she knows that the last thing you want to do before starting out on a cross-country car trip is to take a car that is working well into the shop.
Pretty much everything that constitutes “routine car maintenance” involves taking something apart and putting it back together. Changing your oil, rotating your tires, you name it. All of those interactions between a human being and your car involve risk. There's always the chance that the mechanic will forget to put the washer back on the nut, or will fail to tighten this or that enough – or maybe tighten it too much. Even if the mechanic does everything perfectly, there's always the chance that any new part being installed is defective in some way. So, if your car seems to be doing just fine leading up to your road trip, the wise road warrior lets good enough be good enough.
This idea of holding what you've got is good advice in all sorts of endeavors. Although it's been twenty years now, I can still hear loud and clear the airborne school instructors (known as “Black Hats”) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, yelling out “Hold what you've got!” as my cohort and I dropped to the ground after our first training jump.
The parachutes used in airborne school were not what you would call “fancy.” The only way to direct my descent was to pull on the “risers” that connected me to the parachute. Basically, I would do a pullup on the risers to pull down the chute and catch the air, which would push me in the direction I wanted to go. The tradeoff for achieving the desired change in direction was oscillation. Inevitably, my body would swing a bit after pulling the risers. So, if I were to pull on the risers when I was close to the ground, that action would cause me to oscillate as I hit the ground. Not a good idea.
To avoid that bad outcome, the Black Hats littering the drop zone would call out “Hold what you've got!” after the jumpers had descended to about treetop level. At that height, I knew that whatever I had, whether or not it was perfect, was better than what would likely happen if I tried to make a last minute adjustment. Just like before my family headed out for our holiday car trip, I had to trust in my preparation and let good enough be good enough.
This concept applies to the LSAT too. In these months before the February 2015 LSAT, or in your preparation for whichever administration you plan on taking, put everything you can into your preparation. Be meticulous, thorough, and precise. Then, when it comes to the week before the test, hold what you've got. Don't make any drastic changes to your technique or your strategy. You're preparation will carry you through, and any last minutes changes are more likely to hurt than help. Of course, this advice requires that you prepare in advance and not wait until the last minute. So, what are you waiting for? Get crackin!
Image: Emerald Warrior, by DVIDSHUB