I enjoy watching the Olympics. Two summer Olympic sports I love to watch are swimming and any sort of running race.
The best part of any race like this is watching the last lap. Immediately, the intensity of the athletes increase. You can see it both in their faces and in their strides. They know the finish line is near. It is in their sights. It’s now or never.
Each athlete begins to quicken their pace. They feel the thrill and adrenaline of the finish. It is time to finish strong.
And this is always where the race gets interesting, as each athlete pushes themselves seemingly beyond their athletic ability for the gold. The winner often wins by a margin of less than .1 seconds.
This is how I recently felt, as my 4-year term serving as a member on a board of directors came to an end. I knew I was close to the end. I also knew that there was still a lot to accomplish. I was anxious to finish the race. Yet, I still had a lap to go.
I always want to perform with excellence. I find it most difficult to perform with excellence at the end because of the anticipation of what it will be like after I finish. This was just as true as I completed my term on the board.
As I neared the finish line, I explored in myself 4 areas that I knew I needed to pay attention time if I desired to finish strong.
- Stay focused on the present. It is so easy for me to get distracted by what it will be like after I cross the finish line. However, since the race is not finished, this type of thinking actually detracts me from finishing strong. To finish strong, I need to stay focused in the moment.
- Lead with excellence. When I come to the end of something, I am so often in a hurry to finish that I begin to slack on my work. I begin to accomplish tasks with a “good enough” attitude, which does not meet my own high expectations. Finishing strong means to perform with the same intensity and excellence as I would when I am just beginning.
- Be patient. As the end nears, I tend to want to move faster to the finish line. I begin to sprint. However, the other members of the team are not always in the same place as I am. Since ministry is about people, this requires me to slow down when necessary and be patient. I found myself at my last board meeting trying to rush agenda items, even though I knew the team needed more time to process.
- Remain positive. I know people who, when they are finishing a project or leave a position, begin to rub it in the face of those that are sticking around. First of all, this makes you look like your bragging (and no one likes a bragger). Second of all, this doesn’t make the people who are staying feel good about what they are staying around for. If you care about the mission of the ministry or project you’ve been focused for some time, then you care for its success. If you care for its success, then you want to make sure that the people who are staying feel good about the mission as well.
As you begin to near the finish line, remember these 4 things: stay focused, lead with excellence, be patient, and remain positive.
Question: Share about an experience where you finished strong.