I started this sketch roughly a year ago. I was excited to create my first masterpiece after years away from drawing. I pictured the finished product hanging on my home office wall, along with several others to be done later.
Now, it taunts me every night when my wife and I sit down on the couch in our den. I can see Jimi staring at me from under the coffee table. All the excuses in the world don’t change the fact that it isn’t finished.
Don’t be heckled by your unfinished work
As leaders we make choices about how we spend our time. It’s easy to get sucked into daily tasks that keep us from the really important stuff. It’s easy to make excuses like, “I’m too busy” or “I haven’t thought it through enough yet.”
But avoiding what needs to be finished only delays the inevitable. The issue or project never goes away. And often the longer we wait, the harder it gets. The heckler doesn’t quit.
You can really only do three things to silence the heckler for good:
1. Finish it
Often this is the right answer and it’s usually obvious when important things must be done. We can’t afford to put off investing in our employees. We can’t avoid having tough conversations with colleagues. We must finish projects to keep customers happy.
2. Delegate it
Sometimes we have a pile of work in front of us that needs to be done, but not necessarily by us. This is one of the toughest areas for younger leaders who are used to doing all the work. These administrative tasks must be done but don’t let it get in the way of what you and you alone can do.
3. Tear it up
Sometimes we start things only to find out we didn’t really want or need to do it in the first place. That’s ok. It’s important to quit when you know your efforts aren’t going to be fruitful. The important thing it to make the decision, and then tear it up. It helps no one to leave things permanently half-done.
I don’t want to tear up my drawing. I need to finish it because I told myself I would draw again. I don’t really have the time and am petrified to go back to it. What if it sucks when I’m done? That doesn’t really matter because until I finish, Jimi will continue to stare me down each night.
I must finish my unfinished work. Now go finish yours.