Finishers & Completionists will kill us all

World-sized problems, need reckless folk

Hello, dear reader. I think it's time for me to say "Hello".

I've been thinking about this for a while, ever since I started writing these "things". I'm not even sure what to call these "things"; is it a newsletter, or an article, or a column? Anyway, one thing that is becoming clearer to me, is that I think they should be slightly more chatty and personable.

I'm participating in, engaging with, being forced to, a life reset. After a long while, I was finally given a diagnosis of Continuously Cycling Bipolar (amongst other things); I cycle from hypomanic to depression on a constant basis, multiple times a week. I’ve approached it head-on, which is great but has essentially and practically meant I'm not able to do any of the things that I have done during the last 25 years. 

This creative endeavour is one such result of that reset; writing a novel is another. I still drink red wine & ale, and eat cheese; some things don't change...

It's fabulous to think of lovely readers, well reading, this. It really does fill me with a little bit of joy.

So that's a little snippet of me, what about you? What do you like or loath about this creative endeavour; let me know (hit reply & don't worry only I will see it!)

Now, onto this particular thought I had whilst reading something random on twitter; a preoccupation with finishing things.

We all know at least one. The person who is full of joy at finishing something. The person who gets immense satisfaction in finding all the flag-things in that game.

I present the Finisher & the Completionist.

For both of them, it is the conclusion of the exercise, that makes it all worthwhile.

If we take a moment to look at the Completionist. The term originates from the world of gaming. It is a specific category of person, who exhibits a desire or obsession, in completing every aspect of a game. It can apply to any type of game, or indeed, activity.

As an example, we could take the game Animal Crossing: New Leaf, on the Nintendo 3DS handheld. As I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn, there is a website that details for all games, the time taken to complete them. They have multiple definitions of complete; Main, Leisurely, Completionist. With increasing amounts of time. In the case of Animal Cross, the Completionist time is 1109 hours. Yes, eleven-hundred and nine hours, of continuous effort.

Put another way ... 1109h at 1 hour per day, say during your lunch break. That is 5 days per week, with lets say 2 weeks off for a vacation; 250 hours per year. Yep, that will take you 4 years 5 months and 7 days. That is, of course assuming that you don't get distracted during your lunch break, by that argument between Tracey and Sharon in Accounts.

There are also, of course, the Finishers. Those strange folk who get enjoyment in concluding a task or project. For them, it is all about the finality of it. 

The Finishers tend to get more recognition and reward, in the workplace. There is a notoriety in finishing a project. A special kind of badge that is given, either figuratively or actually, to those special folk.

A niche exists of those two as well. They are called the Speed Runners. Their focus and laser sighted goal, is to complete a game in the shortest possible time. The record for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, is an amazing 1 hour 27 minutes and 15 seconds. It really is a sight to behold!

I am none of those people.

I am as far away from those people as it is possible to get; we will get onto that later.

Having observed such strange folk from a distance, I have noticed a number of curious things. The first of which, that just by looking at them, it's not possible to deduce which people suffer from this affliction. Secondly, said people will tend to focus on the finishing-value of any given task.

This is natural, and is a consequence of the task-reward loop that exists in most of us.

The consequence of this, appears to be that when given a task they will be more willing to start one when they can determine that it has a conclusion. Furthermore, those tasks which they know how to complete, will be given special favour.

Back to me. As I have disclosed, I am not any of these. I am best described as a Startist.

I have a fantastic ability to Start anything. I can pick up any task, I can start almost anything. I can get things going. I have no interest at all, in the joy of finishing something.

In our social structure, I do not get any kind of reward for Starting something. Indeed, it is frowned upon. 

To be clear, I am happy to start anything, even those problems/tasks that do not seem to have any possible conclusion or solution whatsoever.

Why does this all matter; what has this go to do with anything?

Well, if we are filled with a task-reward system that favours those who complete things, and which effectively penalises those who are good at starting, we will end up of less of the latter. We will end up with less Startists.

I've mentioned elsewhere, that I believe that our future holds a number of really difficult problems that need to be solved. Sure, we need to, as a group, work together to attempt to solve these problems. However, if a junk load of people are Finishers, then their focus is on the potential solution before they have started.

It's a problem. It's a problem because it is an immediate barrier for trying things out. What we need are those wonderful people who are fantastic at Starting anything with out any kind of knowledge/will/desire in the conclusion of it.

We not only need ideas, but we need people who are willing to try everything. Once things progress past that initial stage, and fall into the plausible position, then the Finishers can take over.

If we are to solve these world-sized problems, we need a happy band of reckless folk, who are front-line Startists. 

My name is Nigel Derbyshire, and I am a Startist.

Random Visual

Look for beauty and intrigue, in the simplest of things.

Music Requirement

Emmylou Harris - C’est la vie, you never can tell. What’s not to like about Emmylou. This particular performance is taken from the glorious Old Grey Whistle Test show, 1977.

Check out previous music here


Want to know more about me? Take a gander here.