While it could be said that this strength is subsumed under Persistence, I believe it is deserving of its own place among the other twenty-four strengths. Wherever people have work to finish or a product to deliver, there is a tension between making it better and getting it done. People with this strength are able to strike a balance between producing high quality work and knowing when things are good enough. A Get-it-out-the-Door person knows when to say, “It’s ready. I could work on this for another five hours (or years), but I’m proud of the state it is in now and I’m ready to get it out the door.”
Let’s look at some of the ten criteria that Peterson and Seligman use in their book Character Strengths and Virtues to see if, in fact, Get-it-out-the-Door measures up.
Distinctive and Stable
Criterion 6 Distinctiveness – Does this character strength collapse into another character strength? Erik Erikson proposed that certain strengths are prerequisites or foundations for other strengths. I believe the strength, Get-it-out-the-Door, is very related to Persistence, sticking to things when they get difficult. However, people may persist too long. Many people finish what they start, but they often take a lifetime to do it and often their works are only recognized posthumously, such as French painter Gauguin. People who possess the strength Get-it-out-the-Door are able to translate their ideas into something tangible in a reasonable period of time. To me, that is a real strength.
Who Has This Strength and Who Doesn’t?
Criterion 9 Selective Absence – Yes, I believe Get-it-out-the-Door is indeed missing from many people. For some, like Van Gogh, their work is only recognized after their death because they didn’t Get-it-out-the Door. In our everyday lives there are people who always talk a good game, but never seem to leave that boring job, start their own business, write that book, or patent that really cool idea. Phrases like “He squandered his talents” or “She has analysis-paralysis” are two other ways we often characterize its absence.
How Is This Strength Encouraged?
Get-it-out-the-Door may not be sexy or lofty, but it is practical and it does pay the bills for many of us. In fact this article is a testament to this strength. Why? Because I had to get this article out-the-door while juggling a business trip, book writing, and family commitments. I must confess there is nothing quite like hitting that “send” button.
I would love to hear who you believe possesses the Get-it-out-Door strength in the business world.
Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and Society, 2nd edition. New York: Norton.
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press. See page 202.
Out the door – winter scene – courtesy of Hamed Saber
Isaac Asimov — from an article titled Science fiction novelists reveal their daily writing routines by Lauren Davis
Leonardo Da Vinci Helicopter and Lifting Wing sketches from Wikimedia Commons
Out the door to the sky – Puerto al Cielo – courtesy of L*u*z*a*
Margaret, so useful. So important. So DAILY.
I really like that about your Get-it-out-the-Door suggestion. This is a strength we can focus on each day, and it doesn’t get stale because they are different items we need to get out the door each day.
Love the Asimov (my mom’s favorite author in the world) and DaVinci images.
I thought about your proposed strength twice today — once while trying to finish up editing it and putting pictures in, and once while finishing up my monthly newsletter.
I kept having thoughts about ways each could be better.
I finally used meals as my cutoff points — your article by lunch, my newsletter by dinner.
I just wish you had a one-word name for it or at least one that wasn’t dependent on a metaphor that may only resonate in a few cultures.
I’ll let it rattle around in my head in case something emerges.
What a great and timely article as I sit here, polishing polishing and polishing a capstone that has grown into a Little Shop of Horrorsish man-eating monster! (Is citation number 147 the most original article on the subject I can possibly find? And can’t I reword that sentence on page 84 again to make it a bit smoother and more literary?).
Thank you very much for a wonderful stand alone article, and also, thanks to Senia whom I assume timed its publication on “Capstone Eve” for us MAPP 4sters! Time to push send and open the wine, you’ve convinced me.
Git ‘er done, right?
Senia, I’m glad you like this strength and I do believe you embody it! I also think it aligns with the self-regulation work you do with your clients. When we get things out the door it builds our self-efficacy to try things that we once may have thought impossible. Thank you for your positive feedback!
Kathryn, first, thank you for helping me get this article out-the-door! Setting time boundaries is a great strategy for getting things out-the-door. I found myself having to do the same as I was searching for graphics to use for this article. For every key word I typed in there were hundres, if not thousands, of images. Although it was fun scrolling through all of these pictures I realized after about 5 minutes that I could spend all morning searching for just the right ones. I also knew I had other things that I needed to get-out-the-door. Being conscious of your time and peridocially asking yourself “Is this the best use of my time right now?” are two other strategies for getting things out-the-door.
Kathryn, I forgot to address your other thought about translating this strength into one word that is recognized by all cultures. Maybe it’s the Nike swoosh which is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. As you know the tag line is: Just Do It! Other ideas???
Dan, I had no idea that last night was Capstone Eve! I post on PPND every other month on the 14th. Now that’s what I call serendipity!
I’m glad my article prompted you to finish things up and get your Capstone out-the-door. So how did it feel when you hit that “send” button?
Just one other thought: it sounds like you took a break last night from your “polishing” and decided to visit PPND. That’s another great strategy for getting things out-the-door. Sometimes we perceive taking a break as a form of procrastination when it fact a break can help us see things more clearly and re-energize us. Thanks for sharing your personal story and I can’t wait to read your Capstone on UPenn’s Scholarly Commons. Congratulations on getting it out-the-door!
Margaret, thanks for your response. It felt great to push the “send” button. Now I just hope my advisor doesn’t push the “reject” button!
As I told Senia last Fall, I make a point to read PPND at times when I am a bit stressed or low, and it invariably works as a mini-intervention to get me going again. You, the editors, and the contributors are doing us all a great service. Thanks for your contributions, and I will look for your column every month on the fourteenth!
What a wonderful phrase for a strength. No more “Door-ian Gray” for me I won’t let the project age…I’ll get them out the door.
Last night (while working on a jigsaw puzzle, which creates some positive emotion and hence broader thinking), I wondered about words for this strength. What came to mind finally is that Get-it-out-the-door is the expert mean (Aristotle’s term) for just the right spot between too little and too much persistence. So maybe this is the same as the Persistence strength — but more precise in that it represents “just exactly enough persistence.”
I always loved the idea of the expert mean — because it includes the fact that there is no hard-wired point between deficit and excess that is just right. It depends on circumstances and therefore requires good judgment.
What do you think?
Great article — thank you, speaks to getting it out the door — and not having to be perfect.
And what I like about it most is that it has an accomplishment orientation, rather than our typically North American achievement orientation….if that makes sense.
Like you, I find the Nike swoop attractive! We run a year long coaching program for emerging leader / managers. One of our/their favourite persuasives is JFDI! (the ‘f’ being silent, of course!
David, glad you liked it! I checked out your website — you are doing some really great work with strengths!
Kathryn, I really like your notion of an “expert mean” and “just exactly enough persistence”. However, I tend to be pretty plainspoken, especially with my clients, and try to avoid our PP jargon. I have found that business people can easily grasp Get-it-out-the-Door. The fun part is then finding out what it means to them and do they need to cultivate more of it.
Amanda – JFDI – I love it!!! I use that phrase, too, with my clients (the “f” being silent). I also like your take on accomplishment versus achievement. Very well put!
“Expert mean” may sound like jargon — but “just the right place between too much and too little” wouldn’t. I think anyone could understand that.
Great addition to strengths! How about calling it the strength of ‘completion’ or ‘actualization’. Of course, I have always loved the Nike slogan too.
I think Richard Branson is a great paragon of get-it-out-the-door. Or screw-it-let’s-do-it, in his own words. It reminds me of the satisficer/maximiser distinction, could be some overlap there.
If this is a strength, it’s definitely not one of mine. For me, if I’m not given a deadline then a task will take as long as I do it for. And even when I do have a deadline, sleep seems to suffer in favour of keeping things in the door.
Writing an article, for example, can take me 4 or 40 hours. Of course there’s a minimum standard you have to hold yourself to, but like you say the trick is knowing when you’ve crossed that line. I’ll need to be more aware of this, thanks for the tip!
Warren, thanks for reminding me of the satisficer/maximiser distinction. As Kathryn says, it’s finding the “expert mean”.
I find setting clear boundaries (start & stop times) for writing articles, reports, etc. helps me get them out the door. Also, writing a first draft, then putting it away for a day or two, and then coming back to it for final edits helps, too. Thanks for the Richard Branson suggestion!
Amanda, I like the notion of “completion” or “good enough”. I hope I don’t sound like I don’t care about quality, because I do. It’s just that sometimes we are our own worst critic — our gremlins (“You won’t look smart enough” or “Have you really sifted through enough research?” are often what keep us from getting things out the door.
Isn’t this an area where many of us need some serious help from a pyshiatrist or other professional?
Fears of judgment, fears of inadequacy, fears of failurwe, fears of success, etc.
Indeed, this is ground zero for most success or failure in career/professional life, and maybe even personal life (e.g., just ask the pretty girl for a date for the sake of man…). I believe that there are studies showing that most exceptionally bright people perform much less well in business because they try to be “right” while CEO types are so self-assured (delusional) that they have no self doubt and just “go for it”…
It’s a bit glib to say that actually getting things done is a strength, when so many of us struggle with how to go about actually doing it…
I like productivity better than getting-it-out-the-door. It also has a side benefit of appealing to the business/industrial world. Productivity would be good 25th strength if it were ubiquitous. Maybe it is.