Are you familiar with the acronym DNF? While it’s possible there are several variations on what DNF stands for, the one I’m thinking about is from the literary world meaning “Did Not Finish.” When it’s included in a review it usually raises a red flag suggesting to not read a book because while sometimes, yes, life does get in the way of finishing books, for avid readers if you take the time to leave a review stating that you didn’t finish the book, that means it was that poor of an experience or the book just got boring at the end. I got to thinking about this because of the books I read for and about business and leadership and how so often they start off so well, but by the time you’re 3/4 of the way through sometimes it can get really difficult to keep going.
In some ways for non-fiction books, I understand that the author might put their best stuff, or the stuff they know that more people will relate to or learn from, at the beginning because they know that not everyone will get to the end and therefore the author wants readers to feel they at least got something for the money they paid for the book and the time they took to read it. And when it comes to non-fiction books including biographies, there are always parts that are more interesting or educational or stay with you more than others, so you don’t necessarily expect going into one of those books that you’ll love and learn from every page.
But most readers start a book with the intention to finish a book. So why does DNF happen? On the part of the author I think it is an issue that most of us face at one point in time or another, and that’s the desire to just get something done. Sure you started off well, but eventually you get to a point where you either have been working on it for so long or you’ve now got something else that’s taking a higher priority or you forget what the original goal or destination was and you rush or don’t put as much effort into the ending as you did the beginning. Does that mean you shouldn’t publish the book or blog post or finish the project or the conversation? No, but I think it’s a good reminder that we don’t always finish as strong as we start, and if we find ourselves getting into that tendency we need to start doing a better job of finishing strong. It’s also a big encouragement to make sure that we’ve got people in our corner who can keep us on track, as well as review the work we’ve done to make sure it’s cohesive and strong from start to finish. There’s no shame in needing a helping hand to get over the finish line. And while sometimes a job done is more than sufficient, when it’s something that really matters or will impact others, I encourage you to do your best work from start to finish.