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When was the last time you started a project but let competing priorities overwhelm you before you could complete it? This happens to all of us — probably more often than we’d care to admit.
That’s why today, I’m talking to my friend Charlie Gilkey. He’s a founder and CEO, but he’s also the author of a really terrific book called “Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done.” Charlie is on the show today because he has deep expertise in helping people get out of the weeds to finish things that matter. In today’s show, we cover procrastination, inertia, the excuses we make to ourselves: all of the things that come together to prevent us from completing the things we were meant to do on this planet.
If you’re someone who’s nurturing big ideas in 2021 and beyond, sit back and learn from my friend Charlie Gilkey.
Cultivate the Best Version of You
When we start finishing stuff, we actually boost our sense of ourselves. “So many of us see this gap between the best version of ourselves — our best work, our best business, our best team — and our day-to-day reality, right?” Charlie says. “Those two don’t match up for a lot of us.” But completing projects can propel us across the gap, so that we can cultivate the best version of ourselves in reality.
We’re often held up because our big ideas never leave the idea stage to find a foothold in reality. “If you’re not doing anything with an idea, it’s because you haven’t converted it into a project,” Charlie says. “You’ve got this idea. Are you committed to doing something with it?” Put it on your calendar, and start building a team to help you execute your project.
Toss Out the No-Win Scenarios
We make projects hard on ourselves, Charlie says, by nurturing thoughts of our own ineptitude. But that sense of discomfort we feel when engaging in a project signals how important the project is to us. “It doesn’t mean you’re broken and it’s a bad idea or anything like that,” Charlie says. “It might just mean that you’ve chosen something that matters to you — and that you should run towards it.”
What really blocks us to start finishing stuff is ourselves. We build up this sense that we can’t, for instance, be both a great businessperson and a great parent at the same time. And that fosters a sense of defeat, and bland outcomes. “I can’t win at both, so I’m going to shoot for some sort of gray mediocrity in the middle,” Charlie says.
Start Finishing Your Sentences
All too often, really important projects get put on hold for really absurd reasons. Maybe you have a really ambitious project at work that will optimize your culture or talent management, but it’s held up over trite concerns. “When we look at it, it’s like three sentences in the document that need to be finished for this thing to be able to roll out,” Charlie says. “This thing that is going to make work better, going to make morale better and going to make your business better is held up for three sentences?”
It’s easy to recognize your colleagues’ almost-complete projects that are jamming up your schedule. But that’s also a reminder to check back in with your projects. “If you were mad about someone else’s three sentences,” Charlie says, “do the work to identify your own and push that forward.”