Finish What You Start

This Week’s Thought

The key to finishing strong when you decide to end a pursuit is to be a pro and communicate your decisions to others, close out any remaining issues, and capture what you learned.

Damian plays for the Los Angeles Lakes, won two NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors, and was a former student of mine at Vanderbilt University. I had the chance to sit down and talk with Damian for this week’s episode of the Leadership Lab podcast.

I met Damian several years ago when he attended one of my classes. Although I was sad to see him leave after his junior year, he was an excellent student, but I understood his decision. After all, he was drafted 30th overall in the 2016 NBA draft. I can’t say I blamed him for skipping his senior year to join the league.

A few years later, I noticed Damian’s name on my class roster as I was preparing for the semester. Sure enough, when the new semester started, Damian, who stands 6′ 11’’, was sitting in the front row of the class. He had decided to return to complete his engineering degree, and I was fortunate enough to get another semester with this bright student.

On the podcast, I asked him about coming back to school. He told me that he wanted to finish his degree for the inevitable post-NBA chapter of his life, adding that he believes it’s important to finish what you start in life.

In a world where people are known to ghost on jobs, school, and other commitments, listening to Damian’s words and finishing what you start is essential.

There are two routes to finishing strong. Both begin by answering the question, “Is this worth getting across the finish line?

  1. If you answered ‘yes,’ then End with Excellence

This is what Damian decided to do with his degree. To End with Excellence, you need to create a plan, build a team to help, track progress, and celebrate success. It all starts with a conscious decision to take action to finish as stronger than you started.

  1. If you answered ‘no,’ then Kill it Quickly. 

Deciding to Kill it Quickly can be an excellent choice. It simply acknowledges that something you had elected at one point to pursue is no longer worth the time, energy, and effort. The key to finishing strong when you decide to end a pursuit is to be a pro and communicate your decisions to others, close out any remaining issues, and capture what you learned.

Doing one of the above steps well will allow people to see what it looks like to follow through on a decision and how to finish what you start.

This week’s tool and video build on this idea of finishing what you start. In the video, I share a bit more about the concept. Watch yourself or share it with others. The tool provides you with a decision tree you can follow to finish strong. I encourage you to use the tool for lingering issues you need to wrap up or for projects, initiatives, and other pursuits your team needs to finish.

Let me finish this post strong by encouraging you to listen to my conversation with Damian. In our discussion, Damian and I address the importance of keeping things in perspective, being a good team player, and finishing what you start. Don’t miss where Damian tells me, “You taught me everything I know!” 🙂

This Week’s Questions

  1. Reflect on an issue from the past that you left unfinished (i.e., you stopped pursuing it but left issues unaddressed or people uninformed). What happened?
  2. How does it feel when you replay the above in your mind?
  3. What can you do differently in the future to avoid, or help others to avoid, the feeling you just described?

This Week’s Challenge

Identify one piece of unfinished business in your life (personal or professional) and decide to End with Excellence or Kill it Quickly.…yer-damian-jones/

Finish What You Started Reflection