The Surprising Secret to Getting Things Done

The secret to getting things done is only starting things you can finish. But that leaves little room for trying new things.

Picky starters:

The most surprising and helpful thing I’ve learned about Doers is they step to the starting line slowly. It’s their pickiness that gives them a reputation for being naysayers.

A Doer who can’t see a clear path to the finish line runs for the hills. A Dreamer says, “We’ll figure it out.” A Doer thinks that’s just dumb.

4 outstanding qualities:

#1. Doers think long and hard about commitments. Once they commit, they’ll finish. Successful leaders know the value of recruiting and energizing reluctant Doers. Once they’re in, they’re all in.

#2 Doers plan before they go and push through rather than adapt. They seem hard headed and inflexible to Dreamers and Feelers.

#3. Doers evaluate rigorously. If you want someone to evaluate projects, performance, or people, ask a Doer, not a Dreamer or Feeler.  Dreamers are satisfied with progress and learning. Feelers hate making others uncomfortable. Doers seem judgmental.

#4. Doers don’t need novelty. They need to finish. Dreamers jump in quickly, get distracted, and lose interest as time passes. Dreamers generate and chase new ideas. Doers dig in if they believe they can finish.

4 ways to energize reluctant doers:

  1. Understand their personal purpose. What’s meaningful? How might a potential project fuel their need to matter? (Admittedly, this idea applies to Dreamers and Feelers as well.)
  2. Ask them for small commitments before big. A small yes allows Doers to dip their toe.
  3. Set a short-term achievable goal that allows them to evaluate the long-term path forward. Ask, “What would it take for this project to be worthwhile?”
  4. Don’t dally. Doers make up their minds quickly. Set a near-term date where they make the big yes or no.

How might leaders help Doers commit to new projects?


Doers: Plan, organize, make lists, and find energy in finishing things.

Dreamers: Figure things out as they go, love new ideas, bristle at organization and find energy starting things.

Feelers: Despise conflict, display deep loyalty, do things themselves rather than ask others to do hard things, and find energy in relationships.