When I think about the people with whom I’ve crossed paths, two specific, general archetypes emerge regarding how people approach projects. At the risk of this sounding like a “two kinds of people” generalization, it seems to me that one can cleanly divide people into those who have trouble starting and those who have trouble finishing. Both of these people bring value in their approaches, of course, but too often we think of the “trouble” as a weakness. However, perhaps it is simply part and parcel of their strengths.
The person who has trouble finishing feels as though they have a million ideas flowing through their head. Some might call the person easily distracted, others might use the more favorable term opportunity-driven. Regardless, their trouble with finishing could be framed as having a mindset focused on the new. In a sense, the person who has trouble finishing gets bored easily with the project and starts looking for new directions, new approaches, new ideas, and, ultimately, new projects. Thus, they get led on a rabbit trail away from the original goal of the project.
The person who has trouble starting, on the other hand, has a million questions about the project before any commitment on their part. They want to know exactly how the project is going to be run, who will be running it, and what sub-projects will be necessary in order to complete the larger whole. This is the writer who can’t seem to get that first word out. In a sense, they also have a million ideas flowing through their head, but their processing is different. Rather than diving into one and getting distracted by another, they feel it is more prudent and wait for “the one.” In a sense, where those who have trouble finishing are distracted by the possibilities, those who have trouble starting are frozen by the possibilities.
As a result, it would seem to me that both groups of people are actually struggling with the same core issue: more ideas than can be executed within a given frame of time. In a sense, we might say that both groups of people struggle with editing. Learning how to take a flow of ideas and not only isolate, but commit, to a small handful enables the person who has trouble starting to start and the person who has trouble finishing to finish. We might call this editing process focus.