Starters & Finishers – Part 1: Which Are You?

Starters & Finishers - Part 1: Which Are You? by Mark Bullock

{3:36 minutes to read} Years ago I read a book by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Les Hewitt called The Power of Focus in which the authors touched on the concept of people being either “starters” or “finishers.”

As the years have gone by, I’ve hired a lot of people and have had to let a few go. It’s been helpful to know what a person’s propensities are with respect to being more of a starter or a finisher.

First off, although everyone falls on one side of the fence or the other, all starters can finish things and all finishers can start things. It’s not necessarily a complete one side or the other; some people lean stronger toward the side of starting or finishing. There’s nothing wrong with being either.


  • Generally tend to be more entrepreneurial;

  • Are juiced by ideas and concepts;

  • Generally like change & to mix things up;

  • Are quick to move onto the next thing, and are often times opportunists;

  • Can be self-conscious or slightly insecure about the challenge of always finishing tasks;

  • Are naturally challenged with dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s;

  • Can feel bound and restrained by systems because they tend to think a bit more outside the box;

  • Don’t necessarily see all the logistics involved in carrying out the next big idea; and

  • Are often very inventive, preferring to reinvent the wheel vs refining it.

I’m a starter.


  • Usually, prefer a stable position within a company vs owning their own business;

  • Tend to like crossing things off the list, to complete things;

  • Like order & clear direction;

  • Tend to think in logical and practical terms;

  • Like to follow systems (that make sense), or to create systems if they don’t;

  • Can be resistant to change unless convinced it will be better after;

  • Often bring a big-picture perspective in that they can see the priorities, including the benefits, of finishing tasks up; and

  • Prefer refinement over reinvention.

What can a person do if they recognize themselves as a starter and they’re challenged with dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s?

Recognize your propensity, first of all. Make & keep updated to-do lists. Prioritize tasks. Try to keep from becoming distracted by the next big thing or next great idea. Stay on task. Enlist the aid of finishers.

What can finishers do?

Pair yourself with good starters. Realize the devil is not always in the details. Resist your inner perfectionist. Be willing to move on to the next thing. Remind starters when it makes sense to stay with and finish ‘last week’s priority’ before moving on to the next. Embrace change, if the change makes sense.

Do you consider yourself to be a starter or a finisher? Why? In my next post, I’ll explore the balance between the two.

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Mark Bullock
Telephone: (631) 754-0800



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