Win Today with Christopher Cook

Get Unstuck. Reclaim Your Purpose. Win Today.

Are You Paving a Road to Mediocrity?

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Finishing what you start—and more importantly, finishing what you say you’re going to start—is the difference maker between “trying” and “doing,” and dare I say, the difference between those who simply dream and those who realize their dreams. In fact, finishing what one starts it is a key character quality of people worth imitating.

Why? Because they are the ones who truly get stuff done. They are the closers. They are the finishers. They are the ones who learned and applied a simple lesson taught to most at an early age: say what you’re going to do and do what you say.

Do Work!

Two questions I’m often asked are, “Why do some people start strongly then soon after lose the interest, momentum, and discipline to accomplish the task set before them? On the other hand, why do others seem to get ahead in life?”

Is it that they possess the “Midas touch?” Is it luck? In my experience, it’s neither.

What I’ve discovered in my own life is that being a finisher relies solely upon one’s disciplined commitment to remain consistent in a particular effort over the course of time. And you can apply that principle to just about any area of life:

Financial independence
Quality of relationships
Career performance
Development of a skill set
Overcoming obstacles and setbacks
Achieving success in a personal endeavor

For some people, though, starting is rarely a problem. But remaining consistent when monotony, lack of enthusiasm, and disinterest sets in is where the trouble lies.

Like starting a blog with fervor by writing every week, then letting it drift into an annual update. Or setting a goal to develop a bulletproof plan for debt-free living, and then indulging “just once more” in that overpriced credit card purchase. Or mustering-up the courage to make gainful changes in your life until apathy and discouragement cloud your forward progress.

Crossing the 80% Barrier

As a coach and consultant to individuals and organizations, a common theme I regularly address—and one for which I provide guidance—is how to achieve success in the last 20% of a project or personal goal. In fact, one leader recently said, “Chris, my team is great. But they hit 80% and run out of steam. 80% is good, but the job just isn’t finished.”

I know this personally because I wasn’t always confident or successful in this area of life.

Admittedly, I have a cautious, methodical personality. While these traits have protected me from making impulsive, sloppy decisions, overextended, they have kept me in a “ready…aim…aim…aim” mode. Put bluntly, I’ve not been one to quickly pull the trigger and put flight to good intentions. And as a result, good intentions stay grounded as…good intentions.

But in the last several years, I invited a small, trusted group of friends and mentors to help me mature in this area of my character. In early 2012, one of my closest friends, George, scheduled regular check-up phone calls with me each Wednesday. As a result, I developed greater focus, greater discipline, and greater commitment that ultimately led to extremely favorable results. Essentially, I pushed through the 80% barrier and crossed the finish line. Most interestingly, the greatest payout wasn’t even the results of having finished—it was a stronger muscle of personal character and integrity.

What is it for you?

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the temptation to procrastinate. Maybe you really want to be a finisher but feel overworked and under-appreciated. Maybe conflicting priorities have you confused about where to exert momentum.

In all cases, what you need (and what I developed myself) is a clear path to push through the clutter and get work done. But simply saying, “get off your butt” isn’t going to help. So follow my guide and apply each step like a recipe to your life. Don’t neglect or skip over any step, either.

8 Steps to Becoming a Finisher 

  1. Determine your “why.” Caution: this has little to do with engaging emotional buy-in. Some things in life are the right things to do whether you feel like it or not. But just because you don’t feel invested doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be invested.
  2. Size-up the needed resources before you start. Without this step, when you (not if you) encounter a challenge, there’s a chance you’ll become unmotivated to continue.
  3. Expect challenges, frustration, and the temptation to quit. And then predetermine that you’ll decline the invitation to walk on easy street.
  4. Engage two or three people to hold you accountable and push you when you get tired or make excuses for a lack of progress.
  5. Embrace the risk/challenge. Make it personal and see the outcome.
  6. Start. This seems obvious, but far too many people have great intentions and very little follow-through.
  7. Measure your progress. How do you know where you’re going and how you’re doing if you never take time to assess your current state? For me, this was the linchpin to my finishing my goals. Observing and celebrating gainful progress provided motivation and encouragement to keep going.
  8. Make mid-course adjustments. In like manner, lack of progress acted as a kick in the pants to figure out what wasn’t working, course correct, and keep going. Perfection isn’t the goal. Consistent progress is the goal.

In the words of my friend, George, “the road to mediocrity is paved by good intentions and logical excuses.” Take the challenge to turn your good intentions into great actions.

Join the conversation in the comment section below and tell me about your progress to becoming a finisher.

  • Deanna Joven

    This is great, Chris. Thank you!!