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Begin With The End

by Mark McClanahan

Those of you familiar with Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” will recognize “Begin with the end in mind.” I want to address two topics related to this advice. The first is something I learned long ago from a college professor, and the second is related to this article.

Over 25 years ago, during my undergraduate studies, I had an inspirational yet demanding college professor. I took an advanced history class with him that required writing papers as part of the course work. Up to this point in my college career, I had little experience writing papers, and through this professor, I discovered I was horrible at it.

My first assignment had more red ink on the paper than black ink. Being shocked by this, I visited with my professor to find out why my paper received such a slashing.

My professor said I grasped basic grammar but failed at communicating a cohesive message. His advice: “Read as much as you can.” My professor said it was clear that I was not an avid reader, and he was correct. He said it didn’t matter what I read as long as it was professionally published. So, what’s my first point here?

In business, we all write. We write emails. We write memos. We write policies. We write blogs, and so on. If you have never read much or don’t currently read regularly, your writing probably reflects this. The same goes with people you lead.

My professor highlighted the need to understand what a cohesive message looked like. By reading professional writers, we can assimilate this skill into our work; we can begin with the end in mind. Do this, and your writing will improve.

So, what’s my second point? This is my final article for SBM. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this experience and am grateful for all of the kind messages I’ve received from readers. Thank you, Ron and Julia, for allowing me to exercise what I learned from my professor. Cheers!

Mark McClanahan (mmcclanahan@callmosb.com or 314.909.1800) is the president at Mosby Building Arts.

Submitted 2 years 118 days ago
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