“Stopping at third base adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish.” – Billy Sunday
Truth be told most people are better at starting than finishing. Starting is exciting. It involves fresh ideas and possibilities. People like the idea of a new beginning. Most projects start with enthusiasm. A few weeks or months later it is interesting to see who is still working at their project and who has drifted away into other things.
Anything good will be challenging.
The excitement of the new beginning soon fades when the work gets hard and there are problems to solve. Everything that is worth working at will have challenges. That’s just the nature of life. Immature or idealistic people sometimes do not count the cost of what it takes. That is why they are more like a short-flighted fizzing skyrocket than a satellite that becomes established in a stable long-lasting orbit that serves the planet.
Finishing well is more about character than talent
I’m a cricketer. As a kid I can remember playing in the park after school with friends. Everyone was keen to be involved until they had their turn to bat and bowl. Not as many wanted to field and bowl to the stragglers as it started to get dark. It took a special sort of commitment to be there at the finish and make sure everyone had a fair go.
It is character that enables you to stay the course, persist at working hard, and rise again from setbacks and disappointments. In my book Integrate, I argue that the basis of effective self-leadership is healthy self-respect. Self-respect is the gift that ONLY you can give yourself. You develop self-respect by doing the hard yards when no one is watching. Self-respect comes when you face down the challenges of life. After you have done all to stand in a difficult situation and you come through the other side, you are different. You grow. You become MORE. And even when you have failed and been knocked down, self-respect is rebuilt when you persist and do the work on yourself so you can process your grief and overcome your regrets.
Finishing well is not just about the end of work or life
If you learn to be a good finisher, it will carry you through life. Your character will be stronger than if you always quit when things get tough. Ideally these are lessons good parents instil in their children at a young age. I can remember helping my 14-year-old son realise we were going to move the whole wood pile delivery from the front to the back yard in one session. He got tired and whinged and wanted to quit. I explained to him that we were in this together and we were going to finish the job. When we did finish about an hour later, he did (somewhat reluctantly) admit that it felt good to finish. I used that lesson every time we had a job to do. Remember how it felt to move that whole woodpile? Well, that’s what we are going to do with this [next project]. He now is a strong finisher.
I know people who have given up on life and have little excitement or joy in their world. They have settled for a mediocre life because the things they wanted to do when they were young turned out to be a bit harder than they thought. They did not develop the quality of a finisher. And their whole life reflects it. That said, I believe it is never too late to regroup and rebuild.
7 reasons you might not finish well
1. Lack of capability. This is usually not the main problem. Most of us who can imagine something in our mind could achieve whatever it is we have set out to do IF WE WERE WILLING TO LEARN THE LESSONS AND DO THE WORK REQUIRED. It is amazing the people who become famous for achieving great things. They are often NOT the most talented. They are the ones who believed and persisted and got the job done.
2. Lack of capacity. This is a problem for people who are poorly organised or take on too many things. They do not count the cost and do the work to set good systems in place so they can be consistent and build trust. Often these people are unaccountable loners who try to do it all themselves. Finishing well always requires a support team. Part of your lack of capacity may be that you have not built a support crew yet.
3. Not thought it through. So often the person who quits halfway to their goals has not thought through what it would take. They have not counted the cost. So, they run out of resources or support. They are poorly prepared to complete the journey and achieve their goal.
4. Become distracted. In his book Stolen Focus, Johann Hari explores the scary situation we are all facing in 2022 where most people have lost the ability to focus for more than 3 minutes. Our capacity to focus and do deep work for long periods of time has been largely stolen from us by many thieves including social media.
5. Self-sabotage. There is a tendency in all of us to be more afraid of success than failure. We all run strategies to keep ourselves safe whenever we feel uncomfortable and out of our depth. Procrastination is one of those strategies that keeps us safe. So is deviant behaviour that can land us in trouble with our spouse, employer, or financiers.
6. Poor personal organisation. This could be the reason behind almost all these 7 reasons. Without a good personal organisational system that works it is easy to become overwhelmed. Also, it is difficult to keep your word if you are always running late or forget things. There are many ways to get organised that works for your personality. People who want to be successful find a way. Those who struggle to finish well are often those who do not.
7. Quitting. Quitting guarantees you cannot achieve your goal and finish well. Slow progress is not a problem. Facing setbacks is not the problem. We all do. Giving up is the biggest single reason many do not finish well. Everyone feels like quitting some of the time. This is when you need to revisit WHY you want to achieve your goal and get yourself remotivated.
Most of us need help to finish well
If you are overwhelmed and feel alone, and quitting is on your mind, please reach out for some assistance before you do. If you would like to talk about your situation with an experienced business mentor, please book a free no obligation call with me here. I would love to help set you up to succeed and to become someone who can finish well.