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Great Leaders Don’t Always Finish First

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Sometimes the most significant reminders happen in the simplest of ways. The other day a friend was wearing one of his many running shirts. He is a great influencer who likes to run marathons and wear the shirts. This one was different he didn’t get it until the run was over, and it said, in big bold letters, “FINISHER!”

Great leaders don’t always finish first – but they do finish.

There seems to be obvious seasons as a manager. Seasons where we don’t quite fulfill our commitments. For whatever reason, like the Titanic our commitments hit an iceberg. Perhaps you can relate to what it feels like to not finish something well?

One key component of great leadership is having the ability to finish what you start. The truth is that any one of us can learn to be a finisher by investing in better starts. By investing in better starts, you will exponentially improve your odds of finishing your projects and while you may not always win the race – at least you can cross the fishing line.

Take Maickel Melamed who needed at least 20 hours to finish the 2015 Boston Marathon, finishing last – his run was miraculous. Maickel Melamed from Venezuela suffers from muscular dystrophy; he finished this race just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning. While he did the opposite of win the race – Maickel Melamed is the kind of leader who knows how to finish.

Someone on Facebook decided to follow Maickel’s journey and posted this comment – “He was just passing through Brookline and scheduled to finish between 2-3 a.m. Since I am up all night anyway, I decided to head into town to try to photograph him crossing the finish line. When I got there, I was told by a cameraman that he was still in Brookline. Knowing it would be a while before he made it to Copley Square, I drove to Beacon Street to see what the deal was. Soon I came upon about a hundred people walking (very slowly) and singing while cars passed by them. It was truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. I walked with them over the Fenway bridge, through Kenmore Square and up Commonwealth Ave until we turned the corner to Boylston. That’s when the torrential downpours started and did not stop. Somehow everyone ignored the rain and kept going. At around 4:30 am, 20 hours after starting the race, Maickel crossed the finish line of The Boston Marathon. I’m not sure why I went to see this, but I’m glad I did.”

That’s what great motivators seem to do; they get us involved in stories that are bigger than life. The reason the stories mean so much isn’t just that the race of life is challenging. While, yes, the race is challenging – the most meaningful aspect of all stories is how they end. The funny part about being a person of influence is that ending is often tied to how well you start.

Great Finishes Require a Great Start. Here are a few thoughts to get you moving towards a great finish on your next big project. 

  • Step Forward – Great people are never paralyzed by fear they bravely step forward and begin.

Winning is great, sure, but if you are going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday. – Wilma Rudolph

  • Take the needed time to count the cost. Create a plan, set a goal – do the heavy lifting of planning at the beginning.

For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you. – Dr. Luke (Luke 14:29)

  • Access and measure your progress along the way. Always know where you stand.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. – Henry Ford

  • Remember your mission. When it gets hard – remember your why.

The life of Christ was a life of humble simplicity, yet how infinitely exalted was his mission. Christ is our example in all things. – Ellen G. White

  • Tell others about the journey. Humbly share your journey, so that others may follow.

I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession. – John Wooden

Knowing how to start will help, everyone finish stronger. Applying the elements of a good START in your life can make a big difference. Step forward, Take the time to count the cost, Assess your progress, Remember your mission, and by all means tell others about the journey.

How do you best make sure you have a strong finish in the business of life? Please share in the comment section below.

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