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Are you a starter or a finisher?

>> 20 February 2009

In 'The Handbook of Academic Writing' by Rowena Murray and Sarah Moore the starting versus finishing paradox is described as follows:

The starting versus finishing paradox exists by virtue of the fact that the skills associated with starting a writing project are qualitatively and radically different from the skills you need to activate in order to progress and to complete it. Starting a writing project is very different from completing and finishing, and this fact is often the cause of writing obstacles as the demands of moving from starting to finishing become difficult to overcome.
Andrew Boyd summarizes the different CEO styles that Randy Komisar talks about in The Monk and the Riddle

  • Phase 1 Starters that are all ideas, excitement and enthusiasm - these folks get the thing off the ground. Starters are riskoholics - they love the challenge of impossible odds.

  • Phase 2 Growers that are more organised - they replace the starters, and build the organisation through the first couple of years. They are risk managers rather than balls-to-the-wall risk takers like the Starters.

  • Phase 3 Maintainers that are very good process people - they thin out the early excess weight in the organisation and settle it down into a good value proposition for shareholders. Maintainers are risk-averse and performance means more to them than relationships, steady and guaranteed growth more than a shot at the truly remarkable.
No matter which of the above you are, it is clear that all three are needed for a company, projects or society to work. If we only had starters, all those bright ideas would never grow up to anything successful.

It is different when you work alone, have your own one-man-show, are an artist or blog writer. Here you need to be all three in one.

You need to start a blog or a post, a painting or a project. But you also need to grow the blog if you want it to be read and and become successful. You also need to finish the painting, frame it and get it out into a gallery, if you want to make your art known and sell it.

In that case the three phases often conflict with or contradict each other. If you are a good maintainer, you might shy away from taking the risk of investing in a new website design for example. If you are a starter, you will have all sorts of brilliant ideas on how to make life and the world a better place, but usually get stuck once it comes down to putting it all on paper and selling your idea.

I believe that this is the reason why so many struggle in the beginning and numerous projects die before they get a chance. Sometimes, the solution to this problem can be so easy though: hire someone. It is a scary thought, I admit, and it comes with some risks. So if you are a brilliant maintainer you might never get to this conclusion...

Here are 7 signs it's time to hire someone. Think of it as an investment in you, your business, your art. Even though it will cost money, it will leave you with more time and only the tasks that you're good at and enjoy.

And that is priceless.

You will launch many projects, but have time to finish only a few. So think, plan, develop, launch and tap good people to be responsible. Give them authority and hold them accountable. Trying to do too much yourself creates a bottleneck.

-- Donald Rumsfeld (astonishingly enough :-)


Anonymous,  20 February 2009 at 18:36  

This is so true about things. I went for months thinking about my blog; what I going to say, how I will build interest etc, all without even so much as a domain name. It took a while but I realized that I had to do more than just think about things, I needed to DO things. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but now I love the experience.

Bri 20 February 2009 at 19:49  

I'm definitely a starter, and that's something that's come back to bite me many times. I have lots and lots of ideas but at the end of the day I'm usually still at the same place; however a few months ago I decided to commit and see a few projects through no matter how tough. I'm not seeing many results yet but I know it's only a matter of time if I'm consistent.

Bri 20 February 2009 at 19:51  

Oh yeah, and Lance is everywhere. :-) But there's so many great bloggers anywhere he is so I'm just following him around, lol!

Lance 21 February 2009 at 05:34  

Hi Mimi,
I'm really thinking about this - where do I fall in it all? I think I'm typically a starter. Yet, I think I veer in the other directions at times too. Maybe that's out of necessity, to get things done! For me, it seems to depend on what I'm doing too. Some things I love to get in and start changing (like my blog design) - yet taking it into maintenance and keeping it going - not as much fun...

I DO need to think about this and the impact it has on me. Thanks much Mimi.

And - Bri...it looks like I'm following you (to great places, no less!)! Where did you go next? Did you leave a trail? Is this like hide and seek?

Mindful Mimi 21 February 2009 at 19:54  

@ Jay: Way to go! Starting a blog and making it grow is huge. It's about finding your way and style in one area. And it helps with other areas. Everything is connected. What you learn in one area, serves in another. So go on learning and experimenting.

@Bri: We are similar. I am a good starter too with many ideas. But I need to force myself to sit down and do the work to get it beyond starter level. And I have started something and the snowball is now rolling. And it feels great.
Lance is worth following around :-)

@Lance: We all have a little of the three in us. Usually we excel at one
because it is what we are good at and love doing. But that doesn't mean we are not capable of the other.
Well, I am glad Bri followed you around to me :-) Thanks for lugging people around with you.

Anonymous,  22 February 2009 at 10:34  

Hi Mimi,
This is an amazing post and it really makes you think and ask yourself the important questions. It also gives you some of the answers. I love the citation, it is great and makes me understand how much I need to learn. Thanks!

Anonymous,  22 February 2009 at 21:45  

This post got my heart pumping! I prefer to be a starter but recognize the importance of also being a finisher.

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