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To Finish Well Requires Self-examination And a Will To Matter

Do you know what it means to “finish well”?

Let me rephrase…

Is there any greater failure than to succeed in a way that doesn’t matter in the long run?

Let that sink in.

Now, let’s go on a journey together and explore the notion of finishing well.

How would you describe me in a non-physical way?

This was a question I posed to my children years ago…

Picture the scene. I’m driving with my wife in the front seat and our three young kids in the back.

Since I’m a chicken, I chose to ask the question while driving and couldn’t see their faces.

Hey guys, how would you describe your father in a non-physical way?

Their first answers were the expected safe ones…you know the ones we tell the boss or the professor…the ones we know they want to hear.

My kids did the same thing. Safe.

I know you love mom, and us, and God.

There was that silence, so I pushed…and ended up getting pushed back.

First child: I know that you love your work.

Second child: I know that you love your job.

Third child: I know that you love what you do.

Then nothing but crickets. No matter what I asked them, they could not say anything further.

Then the final nail in my self-esteem coffin: my wife looked at me with that smile – if you’re in a marriage or serious relationship you know ‘that look’ – then asked,

“Are there any other things you’d like to ask and talk about?”

It was grounding.

And it was my defining moment, my turning point. I never wanted my kids to only be able to say that I loved my job and not be able to describe me in any other ways non-physically.

Learning to e-value-ate our priorities

What answer was I expecting from my children? I’m not sure. But it got me thinking about my values…and how I project them to the people in my life.

I was having a crisis. And the key to coping with it was to find a way to leverage the opportunity the crisis provided.

It doesn’t always need to be a big crisis, though.

Being exposed as a work-obsessed father was a wake-up call for me, but for you, it might be discovering that your team can’t relate to your work ethic, your motives…they might not understand your personal or company values. The company culture is rooted in “action”…

How do “action” assessments get rooted in the normal evaluation process? It’s simple.

First, you’re encouraged to list out the different options for your business or your role in it. Then, you identify the best or more preferable options. Next, you ask how it will impact other people. How will other people feel if you do/take this action? Then you do it.

What’s missing in this scenario?

When did you check in on your values? Do you know your values?

We all know of companies that spend thousands of dollars working on their mission, vision, and value statements, yet the result is a website or brochure that says one thing and a team that says another.

The thing I’ve learned in 30-plus years of crisis work is that every person and organization has moments like a tea bag in hot water when what’s inside always leaks out!

Check your values on your bank statement and in your calendar

Nothing brings out the weakness in a company’s core values like a genuine crisis. And these days, who hasn’t faced a crisis in business during the pandemic?

Believe it or not, now’s the ideal time to check-in.

You might think that you’re projecting values relatable to your employees, but have you considered consulting them?

Do you want to know what you’ve been projecting?

When I think about the values I was projecting to my family; I look at my calendar and bank statement. These are the real values that leak out in hot water. Where was I spending my time and money? How did it add value to my family? Did they think I was present? Or did they think I just bought them presents?

When you look at the time and money you’ve spent developing your business, how much of it was spent developing your team? Do they feel valued? If you were to have them in the backseat and describe you non-physically, would they say, “We know you love making a profit.”

To finish well, I’d suggest that you reevaluate your values. It’s not that complicated.

Redefine health and start your journey to finish well

Start by imagining yourself engaged in a hobby. Now think of the outcome. Do you take personal pride in what you’ve accomplished, or are you looking for outside affirmation that you’ve done it well…even exceeded expectations?

When it comes to your hobbies, why would it matter what other people think of your success or failure? If you derived pleasure from the exercise, why would it matter what other people think about your effort?

Now think of your work. Is it a job, or is it a calling? Is it a means to a paycheck, or a vocation?

What about your employees? Do they feel like they’re part of something larger, or a cog in a wheel that functions solely to keep the machine functioning… and simply earn a paycheck in the process?

It sounds morbid, but I want people to show up at my funeral and acknowledge the ways I enriched their lives. I’ve redefined how to finish well. I want to:

  • finish well as in health – more than physical or mental, to honor my emotional, relational, spiritual, or moral health.
  • finish well in the know that I have run my race, that I’ve made the difference, added value in ways that only I could.

It’s time to e-value-ate your values. My desire is that you run your race, find the right coaches, mentors, and peers who will encourage you to remain motivated so that you can press on towards your goal and finish well.

Enjoyed this article? Here are three more to help you:

The Important of Communication in Business and Why It Requires Transparency
Run Towards the Roar
Krisis: Reframing Wellness