Start well…finish well!

My band instructor used to repeat this one statement over and over: “Start strong and finish strong and people will forgive you for whatever mistakes you made in the middle.” Sometimes I’ve wondered how true that is, but there’s something to be said for his wisdom. Firework shows are like that: A big explosion that lights up the sky followed by 20 minutes of mediocre flying sparks with a an awesome 5-minute finale is a show you’ll talk about for days. Start well, finish well, and you generally leave people talking!

Part of the reason I think this statement might be true is because the middle of a thing (a concert, a show, a project, an event etc…) is where the work takes place. In band, I remember that we often would start with a big “Wow!” to get people’s attention, followed by a several minutes of technical work to impress the judges and the more refined listeners in the crowd (“refined listener” is a term that is never used to describe me!). The technical stuff doesn’t dazzle most, and it requires the most work, but it sets the stage for the finale so that the crowd feels that big “Wow!” on the way in, and on the way out.

A few weeks ago, a young Division III runner gave the crowd a great start and a great finish, creating millions of Youtube hits. Meghan Vogel started the day by winning the 1600-meter state title in Ohio. She ended the day by helping another racer finish the 3,200 meter state event. As Vogel was coming into the home stretch of the 3,200, she saw Arden McGrath laying on the track unable to move. Instead of blowing past her on her way to victory, she stopped and helped Arden up. The two of them crossed the finish line together and I promise you this: The crowd won’t remember who won that day, but they will never forget the ending.

Overboard living requires a fast, audacious and adventurous start. But as you move to the end of specific goals and dreams, it’s the hard work in the middle that is so taxing. It’s the practice, the discipline and the commitment to your faith that will give you the opportunity to “Wow!” the crowd with your finish. Start well. Finish strong. Live Overboard!

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is better on the water!

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