Finish strong!

Yes 2019 is almost on us, but there's still time to meet 2018's goals, says Rashada Whitehead

I was talking recently with my dad about sports, observing how it is one of the great connectors of people in life and reliving some of sports’ most memorable moments.

The more we talked, the more we started to talk about great teams. And because we’re Chicagoans, there was no way to talk about great teams without discussing the championship-winning Chicago Bulls who dominated the NBA in the nineties.

What I always loved and appreciated about the Bulls was their confidence that each game was theirs to win. Time and time again, they would go into half time down. The opposing team had momentum and, based on the scoreboard, fans could easily get nervous about whether they could come back and win.

But almost like clockwork toward the end of the third quarter, or certainly during the fourth quarter, the Bulls would go into full-on hoops mode and convene their collective talent and athleticism – making them virtually unbeatable.

As my dad and I dissected this phenomenon, it got me thinking about how everyone is already buzzing and posting about their expectations for 2019. A new year brings new opportunities and who isn’t game for taking advantage of new opportunities?

But at the same time, 2018 is still in play. And like a member of that Chicago Bulls coaching staff, I would remind people how important it is to keep our eyes on the ball of our current games and to finish strong.

What have you started this year that you haven’t finished? What client conversations began strong but have now fizzled? What goals were sidetracked by more immediate business needs? And are there things on your bucket list you committed to, but still haven’t done?

A couple of weeks ago, a new client shared that his organization was nearing the end of its fiscal year and was close to meeting financial projections, but wasn’t quite there yet. He added that a major competitor had made strides in areas where his firm had hoped to grow.

The more flustered he got, the more I started to think about my sports conversation with my dad. Before diving into the business side of things, I shared two points with him. The first is, just like first class runner Usain Bolt doesn’t look back to see how close the competition is, he should run his own race. The second point was, there is still time left on the clock for 2018.

By the time we finished meeting, the client realized there were two key opportunities he hadn’t fully pursued. Just after Thanksgiving, he called back to say he was in the process of signing a scope of work for a new initiative. His client had funds remaining for the year and was excited to get the ball rolling. The new work would put my him right where he wanted to be.

I have a handful of goals and projects — both personal and professional — I’ve decided to focus on in the next few weeks. Already, I can feel a sense of excitement and fulfilment simply by embracing and enjoying the tasks at hand.

I have no doubt 2019 is going to be amazing. But at the same time, the fourth quarter of 2018 isn’t quite over. There is still time left on the clock. Be bullish in keeping your head in the game and finish strong.

Rashada Whitehead is a reputation, culture and business transformation leader who helps brands consciously navigate big changes.

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