The Finish Line

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

I’ve heard it said, “The fortune is at the finish line.” The best example I can think of is farming. The farmer can plant, water, and fertilize, but these activities mean absolutely nothing unless the farmer harvests the crop. The harvest is at the finish line — success is all about finishing.

“There is no bigger waste of time than doing 90% of what is necessary.” — Thomas Sowell

Swimming champion Michael Phelps is an expert finisher. In Beijing, the Men’s 100 meter butterfly final was decided by a hundredth of a second. Phelps and Milorad Cavic approached the wall both needing a partial stroke to finish, with Phelps still trailing. Cavic coasted. Phelps drove hard into the wall. I believe it was the instinct of a master finisher that caused Phelps to take that extra short stroke and make up the deficit.

“Epic. It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time. He’s the greatest racer who ever walked the planet.” — Mark Spitz (on Phelps winning his 7th gold medal)

While people continue to talk about the photo finish, Phelps actually out-finished his opponents at the other end of the pool as well. World-class swimmers know that the end of each length is actually the start of the next one and an opportunity to build momentum. Phelps reigned supreme in finishing every length, not just the final one. Going back to the race of the century, Phelps was said to be in seventh place going into the turn. Coming out, he appeared to be in fourth. Without two strong finishes, he would not have earned the gold.

So many people never put themselves in position for a strong finish because they never even get started. If I had been born as Yogi Berra, I might have said, “70% of success is showing up. The other half is finishing.” To become an expert finisher, first become an expert starter. As long as you develop the mindset of a starter, you are positioned to finish. Then, as you become a consistent finisher, you can learn to do it faster and better.

“It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

To finish first, you must first finish.” — Rick Mears

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s satisfaction in finishing if for no other reason than the objective can be crossed off the list.

“Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense.” — Arnold Bennett

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” — William James

In other cases, satisfaction is found in the task itself. In fact, rushing through the task can result in missing the enjoyment.

“Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” — Greg Anderson

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” — Fr. Alfred D’Souza

Based on this concept, one would have to conclude that the old adage about success and paying the price is all wrong. Zig Ziglar explains, “You do not pay the price of success, you enjoy the price of success.” Struggles and challenges become part of the adventure. When this attitude connects with a vision, a champion is born.

“Don’t be content with doing only your duty. Do more than your duty. It’s the horse that finishes a neck ahead that wins the race.” — Andrew Carnegie

Your GPS

Keeping promises is an example of finishing. Whether it’s a promise, a small task, or a major goal, the objective needs to be following through to the finish line. There is no integrity without finishing and no professionalism without integrity. To become known as a person of integrity, one must develop the good habit of finishing.

“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” — Vince Lombardi

“Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it.” — Frank Tyger

“We are judged by what we finish, not what we start.” — Anonymous

Find that to-do list. Get busy crossing off the artifacts of your procrastination. Don’t worry about perfection. Perfectionism is a stumbling block for finishing. Many times, my late father-in law used the following expression to make this very point.

“It’s good enough for who it’s for.” -– Donald P. Nock, teacher and coach

Fear of imperfection is a poor excuse for not starting and not finishing. Approach every task in four parts: get started, make mistakes, learn from the mistakes and finish strong.

“It’s not where you start it’s where you finish.
It’s not how you go, it’s how you land.
A hundred-to-one shot, they called him a klutz,
He can outrun the favorite all he needs is the guts.

“Your final return will not diminish
And you can be the cream of the crop.
It’s not where you start it’s where you finish
And you’re gonna finish on top.”

“It’s Not Where You Start (It’s Where You Finish)” Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

God bless,

— CC

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© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Money Matters

Money is the subject of songs, the theme of books and movies, the lifeblood of a capitalistic society, and one of humanity’s greatest temptations. Money is won and lost, earned and stolen, spent and saved, abused, pursued, wasted, hoarded, invested, donated, shared, gambled and worshiped. I’ll bet (pun intended) as many books have been written about money as about happiness, peace and joy combined.

Money is also one of the most misunderstood concepts. “Let me ‘splain it, Lucy.” Some say they aren’t “money motivated.” I believe this is an inaccurate statement possibly offered as a thinly veiled excuse for why they are poor. If true, why do they accept a paycheck from their employer?

Maybe it would be better to say, “I am content earning enough to support my modest lifestyle.” While this could be more truthful, it reflects different problems. This person could have low self esteem and not feel capable of earning more.

“Almost without exception, you can measure a person’s contribution to society in terms of dollars. The more he contributes, the more he earns.” — Zig Ziglar

There is significance in the wording of the second sentence.

The second possibility is that it reflects a “do no harm” approach to life, which I call selfish contentment. People that live their lives as if their only responsibility is to be happy and not be a burden on others are probably not living up to their potential and their purpose.

We need to see money as a tool for good. If our priorities are in the proper context and perspective, money is a great servant. It’s only when we become a servant to the money (and its close cousin “possessions”) do we have a serious problem. Money offers opportunities to help other people. The more money we command, the greater the impact we can have for good. Andrew Carnegie didn’t build libraries and schools by earning the minimum wage.

Living Within Our Means

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” -– Charles Dickens, from “David Copperfield”

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” -– Errol Flynn

“The mint makes it first, it is up to you to make it last.” -– Evan Esar

Money and Business

“Profits are better than wages.” -– Jim Rohn

“… if you have the ability to start your own business and you don’t do it, you are a fool. I’ll repeat that. If you have the ability to start your own business and you don’t do it, you’re a fool.” -– Brian Tracy

Dubious Uses of Money

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” -– Groucho Marx

“Money can’t buy friends, but it can get you a better class of enemy.” -– Spike Milligan

The Money Trap

“Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil.” -– Henry Fielding

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” — Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10

Money vs. Poverty

“It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.” -– Kin Hubbard

“Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.” -– Plato

“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” -– Woody Allen

Money Perspectives

“Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle.” -– Ken Hakuta

“Money isn’t everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen.” -– Jim Rohn, quoting Zig Ziglar

“I choose the likely man in preference to the rich man; I want a man without money rather than money without a man.” -– Themistocles, from “Plutarch, Lives“

Interestingly, the Bible has much to say about money. The Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25:14-30) and the story of the widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44) are two familiar examples. Here are a few more passages on money:

“When God is angry, money won’t help you. Obeying God is the only way to be saved from death.” — Bible, Proverbs 11:4

“Money wrongly gotten will disappear bit by bit; money earned little by little will grow and grow.” — Bible, Proverbs 13:11

“The poor are ruled by the rich, and those who borrow are slaves of moneylenders.” — Bible, Proverbs 22:7

“If you don’t have the money, you might lose your bed.” — Bible, Proverbs 22:27

“If you love money and wealth, you will never be satisfied with what you have. This doesn’t make sense either.” — Bible, Ecclesiastes 5:10

“You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” — Bible, Matthew 6:24

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: