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Start To Finish

Updated: Feb 27

It's easy to understand the idea of a running race. There is a starting line, there is a distance to be covered and there is a finishing line. There is a clear flow of moving from start to finish with the intention of completing this as quickly as your current state allows you to. If you are a musician performing in an orchestra or band, there is a beginning to the piece and an end. The intention is to stay in time with other members of the group to avoid a cacophony of parts that don't resemble the piece being performed. This time, there is no race, but rather a group with a clear purpose of creating sonic harmony. When you prepare a meal, the start can be defined through the collection of the ingredients required, the chopping and mixing, the heating or cooling of this until the final plating. From here, there is room for final adjustments such as seasoning and garnishments to reach our finishing point.

Start and finish points allow a clear demarcation of the process. What happens in between is where you take control and allow your input to determine the shape of the pathway you take. You make decisions through actions that shape the outcome in each of these, allowing a real time response to what is occurring in front of you. The distinction with each of these are that they are one off events that happen within a confined time period. The start to finish process is clearer with the intended outcome always being visible.

When you plant a vegetable garden (let's say with the intention of growing tomatoes), the start to finish process changes. There are now intervals between each required action that still allow you to make appropriate decisions, and now also requires repeated focus to ensure that the outcome is maintained. The challenge is that there is no clear finish point as the fruit ripens at different rates, meaning harvest occurs at different times. A more constant requirement to check on the growth and development, ensure that these remain at an optimum are more time intensive but do allow for an extended period of reward. The end point can vary in this case. For instance, after a productive period the plant might naturally reach the end of its life cycle determining the finish, or changes in weather and seasonal conditions might speed up this process. You might determine that you have had a sufficient crop and be looking to plant something else in this space therefore the need to nurture the soil in preparation becomes the priority. There is no specifically defined end date in this process, however an intent to make the most of the fruitful period.

If you are learning an instrument or a language, then this process changes again. A finish point is much less defined, and in fact needs to be extracted out in the form of another goal to utilise the skills that are being gained. Whilst each can serve as an achievement in a personal context, the simple joy of learning would render these each to a hobby context. I will be bold in saying that there would always be a greater desire to test these in the context in which they are intended, and that is a sharing process that involves a degree of risk. Both playing an instrument and speaking a different language fall into a performance context, the nature of expressing and communicating outwardly in a way that requires a response to the situation and the refinement of the feedback that takes place. In this way, there can be a start and finish in each endeavour, although the nature of this will be that the learning is ongoing. Mr Pigglesworth might find that learning the drums as a hobby brings a certain level of enjoyment for a period of time, and then this might extend to playing in a group. Whilst the overarching goal of learning an instrument remains, the challenge of application of the skill is where the real reward is often found. The start to finish is not the learning aspect of this process, it is instead the opportunities to apply this that become the focus and an appropriate measure to determine success from.

If we think back to our running example, we can see that I have taken a very simplistic view of this. Again, we now realise that the training is the learning that takes place and the race itself is the ability to apply the knowledge from this to determine the result of our learning. In all of these endeavours, we develop knowledge through the experiential process and this becomes a fundamental part of who we are. This means that we are not running one long race, but a collection that becomes the accumulation of our experience. The question is how do we maximise this?

In the first instance, it is important to understand that we often have a misconception about learning itself. This stems from our view of what education is in a formalised sense, as opposed to what this looks like in an ongoing informal and often unstructured sense. If we examine our own lives more closely, we see that the start to finish framework applies more often than we realise. Our application of skills is quite prevalent, be it on a lower level and often without thought. The ability to read a blog, or a book from beginning to end is a start to finish endeavour. To mow the lawn, wash the car, vacuum the house are also start to finish endeavours. To catch up with others, plan an evening out or have a day with family becomes start with finish events where we are deliberate in the process we undertake. The greater challenge comes from the newness and perception of what we are trying to achieve. There is a greater level of risk that the outcome won't match the desired result despite the reward of attainment being significant. Interestingly enough, when that challenge becomes a requirement out of necessity then the application of those skills becomes more imminent. This is where the decision changes of not when will these be applied, but will you?

There are a lot more start to finish moments in our lives than we give credit to. Each of these offer the opportunity to determine the success, to evaluate the outcomes and the efficiencies of the process. This is not a laborious process, and is one that can have an immediate and significant effect on your outlook. You are always learning, your experience will grow and the more that you utilise the knowledge that you have gained and apply this in a deliberate way, the more you will understand the capability that you possess and the potential that lies ahead.


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