When I first heard this idea, I was attracted to it like a mosquito to blue light. Then it kept coming up again and again. What’s the idea?
Whatever it is that you’re doing, finish strong.
Here’s Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence:
Back in the day I had some fun days skiing with Billy Kidd who was a brilliant Olympic champion many decades ago and he asked me what [I thought to be] the three most important turns of a ski run… Most people will think it’s the middle, where it’s the most intense and most speed, or the beginning to get your rhythm. He talks about the last three turns before you get on the lift, where most people are sloppy and they lift up; their body mechanic relaxes…
The thing is, the last three turns are what you’re going to be internalizing unconsciously on the lift ride up.
It’s [been] true with martial arts training my whole life; always finishing strong; always executing a technique very well… so that the last thing you do, it’s what’s going to burn into you most deeply overnight. Harnessing unconscious learning is a huge part of what I do, and what I train people to do.
And here’s Jim Collins discussing the same concept, as the final story in his bestseller Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t:
The coaching staff of a high school cross-country running team recently got together for dinner after winning its second state championship in two years. The program had been transformed in the previous five years from good (top twenty in the state) to great (consistent contenders for the state championship, on both the boys’ and girls’ teams)…
One of the coaches [explained]… “We don’t work harder than any of the other teams. And what we do is just so simple. Why does it work?”
…We run the best at the end. We run the best at the end of workouts. We run the best at the end of races. And we run the best at the end of the season, when it counts the most. Everything is geared towards this simple idea, and the coaching staff knows how to create this effect better than any other team in the state.