I grew up attending a small school district which was the consolidation of two small towns. What is nowadays called middle school was called junior high school back then. The junior high was in Benson, a small town about eight miles away from my hometown.
Every once in a while, either early or late in the school year when it was warm, some of us would forego the bus ride to school, get up really early in the morning and ride our bikes the eight miles to Benson. By the time a couple of us decided to do it, others would join in and we’d have a pack of guys meeting somewhere in the wee small hours to ride the country roads together.
Close to the finish line
One time, we had a pack of about six. The ride there was fairly uneventful until we got about a mile away. We could see the school in the distance across the corn field. We had to overcome an upcoming hill (as big as hills get in central Illinois) and we’d be home free. As tired as we were from rising early and riding our bikes that far, we all seemed to get the idea that we should kick it in and race up that hill.
I don’t remember who won. It wasn’t important. I remember the exhilaration we felt when we got to the top. After a few seconds, we noticed that one of the members of our group didn’t want to race and was left behind. We stopped at the top of the hill and yelled to him to come on while we waited.
He turned around and headed back. We yelled some more but he just kept going. Having come this far, we figured he’d eventually come back rather than ride the seven miles home.
We rode on and went to school. In 3rd hour English, I saw his dad pull up to the front of the school and walk in with his son. I couldn’t believe we were that close and he rode all the way home to have is dad drive him to school.
I was flabbergasted by that as a young 7th grader, and I still am today. I see people who work for weeks renovating a room in their house only to stop before putting up the trim.
People will spend days on a document and then won’t spend enough time to follow through and proof-reading it to make sure it’s professional enough to impress the reader.
I remember once talking to a co-worker about projects we were doing around the house. He suggested that a handy man should start a business called “The Last Ten Percent”. One could make a fortune finishing the last ten percent of projects that people start around the house, only to fade out and not follow through at the end.
I’ve often thought that that was one of the many reasons why companies bring in consultants. Consultants – good ones, anyway – establish a defined scope which includes criteria for what constitutes the completion of a project. If the client is smart enough to set up a milestone-based payment schedule, the consultant doesn’t get paid until they finish the project.
But consultants are human too. They can be just as guilty as anyone. By the time a project is ramping down, the excitement and novelty have worn off and there are newer, more exciting projects looming on the horizon.
Sure, finishing up usually includes the more mundane work of documentation, archiving files and such. But it represents an attention to detail, doing the job right and following through. I also think it shows professionalism and an attention to customer service.
It’s so important to just go to Benson, finish up that last 10% and make sure it’s done right.
What do you need to finish today?
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As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.