Begin as You Mean to Go

Shawnee Love   •   January 11, 2021

New years often bring forth questions of what goals to set; what to start, stop, or continue; and how to proceed. One of the pieces of advice I have given many times over the years (and in many diverse situations) is to:

Begin as you mean to go.

My intent isn’t to advise people to be rigid or narrowly focused or to encourage a fixed mindset of unchanging skills or knowledge, but rather to encourage people to know and be themselves because that is what we are good at being.

Whether hiring a new employee, leading a team, creating a lifestyle plan (sleep, diet, exercise, social, etc.), or thinking about how to interact and operate in a new capacity yourself, I stand by the advice of “begin as you mean to go”. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a training period, or that you can’t adjust your practices and behaviours as you gain more knowledge and skill about what works for you.

This advice is simply a reminder that pretending to be something you are not or changing how you behave with no explanation (e.g., after the honeymoon or introductory period is over) doesn’t lead to desirable outcomes.

We know that interactions with other people are more positive (safe, fun, creative, etc.) when they are grounded in trust. We also know it is human nature to perceive inconsistent behaviour as false and inauthentic.

So, you can build trust by simply beginning as you mean to go. Better still if your beginning includes an explanation of how you plan to proceed, so there are no surprises for anyone.

I admit to being in a constant state of learning as it relates to this piece of advice. But that is what leadership is. As a mentor I know often says, “Leaders are learners“.

What are you working on or trying to learn in 2021?