Finish What You Start

The third principle in Cowboy EthicsWhat Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West is for me one of the toughest.  Stepping into this principle becomes a war with myself at times, and I’m interested in your perspectives here.  So, let’s get started!

Principle #3: Always Finish What You Start

For the most part, I wholeheartedly agree with this principle.  If I start something, I finish it.  It closely ties to principle #2 of taking pride in your work.  I don’t like quitting.  I may not finish to the sound of cheers, but I finish.

I do wonder, however, if there times that walking away is a viable, even sensible, option? I think there is flat out quitting, and then I think there is taking stock.  Knowing when a commitment has become an investment trap versus a challenging moment is key. Sometimes walking away actually makes sense, but there is a critical component to ending a commitment early that I want to address.

The conversation is far more important than the actual decision.

Let’s face it, life happens, situations change, and that can have a huge impact on our ability to follow through as we planned.  Here’s the thing: the person, or team on the other end of the commitment deserves a conversation about the decision.  They will be impacted, so it’s critical to take that into account, and fully address it.

So, how can we tell if we are in an investment trap or a challenging moment?  Scott Plous, PhD, author of The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making details three steps to take when we are unsure:

  1. List the pros and cons of quitting
  2. Solicit the opinions of those around you
  3. If you decide to go forward, build in a disclosed exit strategy

Making and holding commitments is an important skill; our word is only as good as the actions behind them, but there may be times walking away makes the most sense.

I’m curious.  What are your thoughts on stepping away from a commitment?


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