Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 3

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 2, Pick an Idea That Matters to You

In this chapter, Charlie discusses what idea we should make a project out of it. Of course, we all want to do the best work, but we often avoid asking ourselves the hard questions of what idea we should work on realizing. Finally, he offers the following views for us to think about:

  • When we try to choose an idea to work on, we thrash. Thrash is the emotional flailing we do when we do not fully commit to our best work. The more an idea matters to us, the more we will thrash. That is because the idea’s success or failure is critical to us.
  • Failure is inevitable when we try to do our best work. Doing our best work is showing up and dancing with uncertainty. Fortunately, failure can reveal what matters to us, show us when we are out of alignment on something, and reveal areas for growth.
  • The five hard questions to ask when picking the project that matters most:
    • When someone close to us asks what was the most important thing we have done over the last year, what would we say?
    • Which item on our idea list causes the most gut-level anguish when we consider cutting it from the list entirely?
    • Which item on our list are we most likely to create the schedule space to work on?
    • Which item on our list, if finished, will matter the most in the near or distant future?
    • Which item on the list is worth claiming one of our remaining “significant project” slots during our remaining lifespan?
  • Due to the limitations of time and energy, each decision carries an opportunity cost. We must let go of ideas that are not allowing us to thrive, so we can trade up the projects that do.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 2

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 2, Getting to Your Best Work

In this chapter, Charlie discusses the five challenges that keep us from doing our best work. He also discusses the five keys that we can use to mitigate those challenges. He offers the following views for us to think about:

  • The five challenges are competing priorities, head trash, no realistic plan, too few resources, and poor team alignment.
  • The five keys to overcoming the challenges are:
    • Intention: We need to start by asking ourselves the question of “why.” We also need to have a concrete result in mind for the finish line of the project.
    • Awareness: Awareness is knowing our best work and the conditions under which we will do and produce our best work. It is all about knowing ourselves.
    • Boundaries: We need to set up boundaries for our best work and from the things that keep us from doing it. Without the boundaries, it will be easy for something else to come into our environment and displace our best work.
    • Courage: When we are doing our best work, we will face a continual stream of obstacles and chances to back down and hide. When fear surfaces, courage and the faith it inspires are our way out of hiding.
    • Discipline: Discipline help to channel our energy into purposeful, constructive actions towards our best work. Habits are discipline made automatic. Developing habits that are conducive to doing our best work is the reason why we practice discipline.
  • Some keys are more effective at overcoming a particular challenge than others.
  • The five keys are skills with which we can cultivate and practice every day.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 1

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 1, “Someday” Can Be Today

In this chapter, Charlie set up his methodology by discussing why converting an idea into a project is the crucial first step. He offers the following views for us to think about:

  • We often know we are not working on what matters the most. “We don’t do ideas – we do projects. A project is anything that requires time, energy, and attention to complete.”
  • “We thrive by doing our best work.” When we are doing our best work, we will always be on the edge of our capabilities and comfort levels. The primary consideration is not how our best work will support our livelihood but how our best work fits into a meaningful life.
  • We can think of our projects as mirrors and bridges. Projects are mirrors because the things we choose to work on reflect what is going on in our inner and outer worlds.
  • Projects are also bridges because we can create our souls’ paths when we are doing the work.
  • Some people are blessed to have a narrow set of interests that propel them to take a specific path. Most of us seem to have a set of “scattered” interests as we have difficulty fitting ourselves into one easy label. We should embrace the reality that there is not just one domain for our best work. At the same time, every aspect of our interests we choose to dip into will require upkeep in the form of projects.
  • “We can create new realities for ourselves, but only when we let go of the idea that we’re uniquely defective.”

Drucker on Knowledge Worker Productivity, Part 1

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

In this chapter, Drucker discussed worker productivity for both manual work and knowledge work. In the 20th century, businesses focused on manual workers’ productivity and reaped a tremendous amount of benefits.

In the 21st century, Drucker believed the most valuable asset of any institution, whether for or non-profit, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity.

According to Drucker, six factors can influence the knowledge worker’s productivity.

1. Knowledge workers’ productivity demands that we ask the question: “What is the task?”

While manual work productivity asks the question of “How can we do something faster and more cheaply,” the question for knowledge work should be “Who is this for and why do we want to do it?”

2. Knowledge workers must own responsibility for their productivity. Another word, knowledge workers must manage themselves with autonomy.

For manual work, the bosses and managers own the primary responsibility of keeping their worker productivity. It is the opposite of knowledge work.

3. Continuing innovation must be part of the knowledge work.

For manual productivity, doing things faster and producing things cheaper per unit are the goal. For knowledge workers, our work must be innovative by being purposeful and aiming at a leadership posture.

4. Knowledge work requires continuous learning, and equally continuous teaching on the knowledge worker’s part.

Manual worker’s productivity relies on obedience and compliance.

5. Quantity of output is not the primary productivity concern for knowledge workers.

For manual productivity, it is mostly about the quantity of output. The quality aspect of the manual work is to meet a minimum standard. Exceeding such minimum standard is welcome but not essential for manual work.

On the other hand, the productivity of knowledge work must aim first at obtaining the optimum, if not maximum, quality. Only after achieving the quality goal, we can ask ourselves the question of quantity or volume. This quality-first posture also means that the knowledge workers must think through the definition of quality for our work.

6. Finally, Drucker asserted that the productivity of knowledge workers requires that we treat the people as an “asset” rather than a “cost.”