Finishing Strong

Well, here we are right smack dab in the middle of 4th quarter 2010! I can’t believe we are about to hit the holiday season. For many companies, 2010 was a comeback year after a burdensome 2009.

Those of you who have followed me through the years know my thoughts about the 4th quarter. It’s time to start thinking about how to finish strong!

2011 will be here before you know it, and in January we’ll be talking about how to kick start the New Year momentum. But our start and our momentum depend heavily on how we finish strong in this year’s 4th quarter.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you prepare your team to finish strong:

1. What business relationships can we solidify? Who are the clients that we would like to partner with 1st quarter next year? Is our relationship strong enough to ask for their commitment? If not, why? What do we need to do to get it there?

2. What does our activity level look like? Are we walking, crawling, or sprinting to the 2010 finish line? Remember, our 4th quarter activity level will show its pretty face or rear its ugly head in our 1st quarter results.

3. What are you doing to develop yourself and your team? Go for one more significant growth opportunity; it doesn’t need to be a grandiose event or big production. It could be as simple as some quality one-on-one time with your teammates. I’ll be spending valuable time on Performance Review conversations (more to come on that topic next week). Maybe you could have a short book study, article review and discussion, or a caring and candid conversation. Be intentional in finishing strong with your people.

I’ll never forget one of my favorite basketball games our youngest daughter played in a few years ago. She was playing in a tournament, and her team had to play the number one select team. Now, this team was big, tall, tough, and good! Our girls walked out onto the court totally intimidated. In fact the moms were intimidated, and the dads were already yelling at the refs to check birth certificates! As we entered the 4th quarter of that game, it was clear the odds of winning were not in our favor due to the wide point spread. I was worried, not about winning or losing, but about the possibility of these kids losing their confidence in future games due to this intimidating loss. How in the world could they go back out on that court knowing the odds were against them?

So we decided to cheat. Yep, the parents rallied and we changed the goal; we changed the meaning of winning for that 4th quarter. It wasn’t about the end score anymore. It was about finishing strong. We encouraged the kids that the win would be in how we finished the game. Make good passes, set firm screens, dive for the ball when it’s free, and hustle, hustle, hustle until the horn blows.

Finishing strong is no different in business. Whether your growth is trending up or down, finishing strong is about how you finish… and how you finish this year will determine your mojo in how you start next year.

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