On our journey to a goal, there are bound to be rough patches.

There are starts and stops and sputters.

Sometimes we just get off on the wrong foot with regard to a project or undertaking.

That’s OK.

What’s important is not how you start, but how you finish.


Nobody ever remembers the runner who sprinted at the start, but then lost gas. They remember the runner who held on and broke that tape at the end.

A major challenge to our finishing strong is our constantly getting caught up with comparing our “rough draft” to the final edited copy of others.

The process is important. But only if it’s leading us in the right direction. What’s crucial is the sum of all the steps, and how the process turns out in the end.

Two weeks ago, for example, I had a fantastic, blazing 20-mile run in preparation for my upcoming marathon the other week. Even at a pace I’d never sustained for so long before, I still had gas in the tank at the end. I was ready to “Bring on the race!” But, then last week, I ran a 10-miler that I could barely even get through. How the heck am I supposed to be able to finish a marathon when I can hardly gut out half that?

Same goes for my speaking engagements; sometimes I connect with the audience and I’m on my “A” game – and sometimes it’s just not clicking and I’d barely say my “game” registers as a “Z.”

The thing is, that’s life.

There are a lot of factors out of your control. With running, those factors could be related to nutrition, hydration, a physical injury, or just weather.

In a project, perhaps “life” and personal or family matters are getting in the way, and distracting you from optimal performance.

Remember: It’s not how we did on day one or day 50 or day 1,050. What matters is how we finish.

Don’t let one poor performance dictate the remainder of the course so critical to your finishing at all. What separates the high performers from those who just finish (or don’t finish at all) is the ability to break through the mental barriers that come with a bad day or inevitable challenge encountered along the way.

How we recover and “right the ship,” so to speak is critical. Instead of getting caught in those trees, see that forest and ask yourself, “How can I finish strong?” Say it loud: There is no other way to finish than to  “finish strong.”

Happy trails.