This summer I heard a great story from Davor Miskulin, a Slade Group ‘alumni’ now working with Burning Glass in Canada, but who visits us regularly when he’s in Australia.
At a Toronto saxophone masterclass last year, which Davor attended with his sax-playing daughter Iva Mari, David Liebman told the story about jamming with Miles Davis. It was many years ago when Miles was already the complete legend and David was building his reputation. As anyone who has followed Miles Davis knows, he was a man of few words.
At that session with David Liebman and Miles Davis the band of musicians played and played and played. Towards the end when musicians ‘downed tools’ and started packing up their instruments, Miles walked past David Liebman and said just four words… “Finish before you’re done.”
As Liebman told the master class, he mulled over that line for years, thinking about how it applied to his music. Davor and I mulled over those four words during a lunch before Christmas, and considered all the different ways that phrase applies to work and life.
Finish Before You’re Done.
It’s knowing when to quit. Knowing that you’ve given it your best, but leaving ‘them’ wanting more, not less. And leaving yourself room to do other things too.
John Key finished before he was done. Nico Rosberg finished before he crashed. Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address in 278 words. Shirley Temple quit at 22.
How many of us are tempted to go on and on – beyond the moment when we should quit? Our speeches, our board tenure, the emails we write, the presentations and reports we present, the…?
When have you wished you’d finished before you were done?