-Get it finished ASAP -Procrastinate finishing a project -Review progress to date. -Look for opportunities to overdeliver and exceed customer expectations.
I used to be a starter. I was working 14 to 18 hours a day on three different businesses and starting two others. It was insane but I relished it. I loved the variety of working on something different every few hours. Plus I got to see my ideas come to life. There was just one problem. I struggled to complete what I started. This was not a problem for me, but it became a problem for the customer.
In those days I was a craftsman. I knew my craft and was willing to take on almost any project especially if I had the opportunity to learn something new. It was both rewarding and scary. I learned so much about how not to run a business. The anxiety and stress I endured was not healthy. Coming close to a deadline I was anxious which made it difficult for everyone in my life. I got the work done but was hard on people. The quality was pretty good but not outstanding. Did the customers get what they paid for? Absolutely. Where they exceedingly happy and impressed? Was I getting referrals? No, referrals did not come despite the fact that I produced a good product. It has taken years for me to learn how to underpromise and overdeliver.
Now I strive to finish well. I am a student of my craft with an eye for detail, a master craftsman. What is the difference between a master boat builder and a journeyman boat builder? It all comes down to an eye for detail. Both studied the same material, received the same training, and know how to design and build boats. The difference is that the master craftsman is constantly honing his skills and is a student of his craft. The other major difference can be seen in the finished product. Side by side, you see the difference in the finishing details. In the master craftsman the finished work becomes the ultimate expression of his passion. He is driven to produce a finished product that he is proud to affix his name to. He will redo, rework, and rebuild it until he gets it just the way he envisioned. He holds himself to his own standard of excellence. Referrals come easily as customers are so pleased with the final product. They often use terms like "He exceeded all my expectations," or "I am so proud of my boat. It is a work of art."
When I had so many projects and businesses on the go I had lots of good reasons to justify why some of the important details were left out. Yet I could not say that we were really successful. Even though I wondered: who was as busy as me? Who had that many projects on the go? What I discovered shocked me.
It was a way to avoid responsibility. The problem? I was not committed to any one project. I did not have to "make it or break it" because when the going got tough, I simply diverted my attention to a different project. Kind of like a breakfast of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved but the pig is really committed. Like the chicken I too had an escape. The backdoor was in the form of pet projects. They were there to keep me busy, skirt the truth, and avoid anything that looked like accountability. I became a "jack of all trades" and a master of none.
Fortunately, my knowledge (I have worked in over 30 different industries) has become a real asset. But I have also restricted my business activities to business planning, writing, and training. Today, I get great referrals and plenty of compliments. Most important I have my own written definition and standard of excellence and craftsmanship that I hold myself accountable to. I am proud of my work and am able to call my customers friends.
What are your standards? How do you define success? What are the principles you believe in? What is your code of conduct, I.e., morals, ethics? How will you measure your performance? To whom are you accountable?
If you do not have a written code of conduct, you cannot hold yourself accountable to a higher standard. It is natural human behaviour to find shortcuts or ways to work around a difficult task. Until you have a written code of conduct by which hold yourself accountable, you will always have a "back door" as an escape to avoid true accountability.