Fact: 92% of what we start, we don’t finish
We love to start things. Just ask gym membership sales people in January. Or virtually anyone about anything at the beginning of a month or a season or a quarter. It doesn’t matter what it is. A new diet, a yoga challenge, a new sales initiative or striving to lessen a dependency on phones, drugs, drinks or work. Sadly, even a three-minute read like this blog will be too much for some to finish.
There is nothing wrong with starting things. Those who take the initiative and all the self-proclaimed self-starters make big impacts. We need self-starters. The problem is we’re lacking the follow through.
The start is the handsome man waltzing into the party. The finish is the nerdy guy in the corner with the captivating intellect.
The start is fun, sexy, jazzy, and all those woo-hoo things. But getting to the finish takes work. Or in some cases, such as reading this three-minute blog, it simply takes perseverance. Yet the act of finishing is becoming a bigger challenge every day and we’re making that ok with all the “squirrel!” jokes.
The Wimbledon tennis tournament just concluded. In addition to the key singles matches, there were doubles and mixed-doubles along with dozens of juniors and seniors competing in matches. Hundreds of players competed in hundreds of matches over thousands of hours. The winners of every match, including the full week of qualifying matches for those trying to make the main draw, all had one thing in common: they won the last point.
In tennis it doesn’t really matter who wins the first point or the first set. In fact, an opposing player can actually win more games and win more points but no one walks off the court with the win without winning the last point. Players can have bad games or sets, they can cramp and struggle, they can wait out weather delays and play through injuries and fight through their own thoughts as they not only battle their opponent but also fight their own emotions. Yet, since the 12th century when the game of tennis was first played, the winner has always won the last point.
The ability to have patience is a sure sign of long-term, sustainable success.
Getting to any finish almost always requires a grind and at a minimum, it requires perseverance. It also requires patience – the thing we as Americans like to brag about not having because for some reason, we think patience might mean we’re not being aggressive or actionable enough. We love to be associated with the handsome start, but we don’t like to stick around for the nerdy grind even when it gets us to the finish. The finish isn’t guaranteed and the start is and we prefer the guarantees to the risks.
When it comes to following through and finishing, the 80/20 rule has been left by the wayside. Studies show that 92% of all those “starts” are never finished.
Whether you are looking for a job in this time of the ‘Great Resignation’ or you are hiring people as they move, shuffle, and juggle interests and priorities, be mindful of all the “start” language and ask about the “finish”.
You may not win the game or the set or the match but if you’ve gotten too bored or grown too impatient to be there to play the last point – let’s be honest; you were never really in the game.
(And if you’re reading this. Congratulations. You’ve just outperformed more than 90% of your peers.)
Make it meaningful,