“Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.” – Joseph Joubert, French Moralist & Essayist (1754-1824)
The world is full of people who are good starters. What we need is more good finishers.
The student leadership year is much more fun when you finish strong. You get to end the year with celebration, a sense of accomplishment, and the satisfaction of a job well done. When you end your year wrong, it just ends.
As you plan your exit strategy from your student leadership position (and I recommend you create one), here are some of the reasons you should aim for a strong finish.
Finishing strong creates momentum for the person who follows.
This why the relay race metaphor is so appropriate for the end of a student leadership year. It marks the beginning of someone else’s student leadership year as you pass them the baton of leadership. When you finish strong, it is a shot in the arm to the student leader who follows you. There is momentum already in place that an incoming student leader can tap into. A smooth transition provides enough of a framework so the incoming student leader can feel confident to move forward in the position using his or her own gifts and abilities. It is an attempt to remove as many blindspots and help the incoming student leader to be as effective as possible at the start.
When you finish strong you create momentum for the incoming student leader by:
• Sharing the answer to the question, What do I wish I had known coming into this position?, with the incoming student leader.
• Reporting about traditions, ideas, projects, continuing projects, or concerns that were never dealt with.
• Encouraging informal and conversational times.
• Explaining organizational systems, policies, expectations, resources, and networks.
Finishing strong also creates momentum for your next chapter. You carry the confidence and experience with you into the next opportunity. Within the Six Seasons of the Student Leader Year, the Separation season and the Anticipation season often overlap. You leave one thing (separate) in order to move on to the next thing (anticipate).
Leave things better than you found them.
This is a principle that will help you in almost every facet of life. It is closely tied to excellence. You can evaluate how you leave your student leadership position by comparing it to what things were like when you assumed the position. List out the improvements you made. When you leave things better, you do something in your student leadership year that makes it easier for the next person.
Finish strong in all of the things you started.
Most people are really good at starting. They get caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm because of the newness and possibilities. But with anything that’s significant, there will be hard work involved. One of the ways you can gauge how well you are finishing is to simply take a look at what you actually finished. It can be extremely frustrating for a leadership team or organization to function under the guidance of someone who continually starts things, but never sees them through to completion. You will be more effective if you finish strong in three important areas:
• Finish strong in your projects – this focuses on what you do. If you start something, you need to finish it. If it is a project that will carry on past your student leadership year, ensure that leadership is in place to carry it on. A project that dies when you leave is a poor reflection on your leadership.
• Finish strong with people – this focuses on who you know. One of the tendencies you will face is to start to withdraw from people when you feel like your starting to withdraw from your leadership position. If a relationship is going to end, make sure it ends well. Take time to celebrate with the people that helped throughout your student leadership year.
• Finish strong as a person – this focuses on who you are. How many times have you seen someone have to separate or leave his or her position because of some dumb mistake. You don’t want to mess up everything you’ve worked so hard for. Your integrity and character is always with you, whether you’re in a leadership position or not. A year’s worth of effort can be damaged in a moment of poor decision-making.
No matter what kinds of choices you’ve made over the course of your student leadership year, if you’re still in your position near the end, you have the opportunity to create a great finish. I’ll conclude this series with one more post (part 3). I hope that you’re beginning to see how important this time of transition is for both you and your school or organization. Why not take a moment right now and write down one way you can finish strong in the areas of position, people, and as a person.
Read Part 1: How To Finish Strong And Not Finish Wrong [Part 1]
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