Home All Get-it-out-the-Door Nominated as 25th Strength

Get-it-out-the-Door Nominated as 25th Strength

written by Margaret Greenberg 14 July 2009

Margaret Greenberg, MAPP '06, is co-author of Profit from the Positive. After a 15-year career in corporate HR, she founded The Greenberg Group, an organizational effectiveness consulting practice, in 1997. Margaret specializes in coaching executives and their teams using a strengths-based approach. Full bio.

Margaret's solo articles are here and her articles with Senia Maymin are here.

Open Door

Out the Door

I nominate Get-it-out-the-Door as the 25th Strength. People who possess this strength get stuff done. They can be thought of as the great implementers of ideas.

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

Isaac Asimov Writing

Isaac Asimov Writing

Criterion 5 Traitlike – Does this strength show a degree of stability and generality? I believe it does. Just look at the number of paintings, books, concertos, or CDs that certain artists produced in their lifetime. Isaac Asimov has more than 250 books to his credit. Richard Rogers wrote and published more than 900 songs and 40 Broadway musicals. And Rembrandt produced over 600 paintings, 1,400 drawings, and 300 etchings! If we look to contemporary artists we find the “greatest rock and roll band,” The Rolling Stones, have produced 47 albums and they’re not dead yet!

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?

DaVinci Sketches

Da Vinci Sketches

Criterion 7 Paragons – Paragons of Get-It-Out-the-Door can be found in almost every profession. In the literary world I think of great writers such as Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, and Toni Morrison who possess this strength. When I think of great painters with this strength I think of the Dutch Masters from the Golden Age, the likes of Rembrandt, Hals, Steen, and Vermeer. In the span of just 100 years these Dutch painters, who are admired to this day, produced thousands of paintings! Let’s not forget Leonardo Da Vinci – who not only was a prolific artist, but an experimental scientist – or Michelangelo who produced paintings, sculptures, architecture and poetry. Lastly, I think of musicians who are also able to get their work out the door: from the Baroque period we have Johann Sebastian Bach; from the Classical period we have Ludwig Van Beethoven; and from the Blues period we have Johnny Lee Hooker.

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?

Out the Door to the Sky

Out the Door to the Sky

Criterion 10 Institutions and Rituals – There are many examples of how this strength is encouraged by society. For example, in the literary field, there are “how to” books such the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published. A Google search for writer support groups produced more than 34 million hits! The one I thought was most original was Phinished.org – a support group for students who cannot seem to finish their dissertation.

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*

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Senia 14 July 2009 - 6:03 pm

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.


Kathryn Britton 14 July 2009 - 6:19 pm

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.


Dan Bowling 14 July 2009 - 7:05 pm

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?


Margaret Greenberg 15 July 2009 - 6:45 am

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!

Margaret Greenberg 15 July 2009 - 7:09 am

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.

Margaret Greenberg 15 July 2009 - 7:11 am

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???

Margaret Greenberg 15 July 2009 - 7:19 am

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!

Dan Bowling 15 July 2009 - 8:22 am

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!


David Zinger 15 July 2009 - 8:42 am

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.

Kathryn Britton 15 July 2009 - 10:50 am

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?

Amanda Levy 15 July 2009 - 12:44 pm


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!

Amanda L.

Margaret Greenberg 16 July 2009 - 8:12 am

David, glad you liked it! I checked out your website — you are doing some really great work with strengths!

Margaret Greenberg 16 July 2009 - 8:19 am

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.

Margaret Greenberg 16 July 2009 - 8:22 am

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!

Kathryn Britton 16 July 2009 - 9:06 am

“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.


Marje Knudsen 16 July 2009 - 10:51 am


Great addition to strengths! How about calling it the strength of ‘completion’ or ‘actualization’. Of course, I have always loved the Nike slogan too.


Warren Davies 20 July 2009 - 4:12 pm

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!

Margaret Greenberg 21 July 2009 - 8:51 pm

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!

Margaret Greenberg 21 July 2009 - 8:56 pm

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.

LeanRainMakingMachine 22 July 2009 - 11:28 am

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…

Jeff 15 October 2009 - 4:16 pm

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.


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