Start, Stay, or Leave Book Summary - Start, Stay, or Leave Book explained in key points
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Start, Stay, or Leave summary

Trey Gowdy

The Art of Decision Making

4.3 (70 ratings)
16 mins
Table of Contents

    Start, Stay, or Leave
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    Section One: Start at the end.

    What do you do when you’re working hard toward a goal, doing all the right things, and realize that you're still not getting the outcome you wanted. Maybe it's a career goal, a personal project, or a long-standing dream. Where do you go from there? What else is there to do if you’re already doing all the right things?

    Trey Gowdy, the author, found himself in this situation during his career as a federal prosecutor. He was only 30 years old when he landed his first high-profile murder case. He and his team spent months preparing for the trial, collecting evidence, and interviewing witnesses. But despite their hard work, the case wasn't going well, and Gowdy was worried they might not get the conviction they were seeking. That's when he decided to take a step back and instead start at the end.

    Gowdy realized that to win the case, they needed to convince the jury that the defendant was guilty beyond reasonable doubt. So, he began focusing his efforts on writing the closing argument he’d make to the jury. He knew that if he could present a compelling, convincing argument, they’d be more likely to come to the desired verdict.

    By starting with the end in mind, Gowdy was able to create a clear plan to achieve his goal. He worked backward from the desired outcome and focused his efforts on the steps that would lead to that outcome. This approach helped him to successfully secure a conviction in the case. Since then, Gowdy has used the power of starting at the end to help him achieve almost every goal throughout his career.

    The next time you're faced with a difficult decision or a challenging goal, take a page from Gowdy’s book and try to visualize what the end result will look like. Then, write down a clear and concise description of what you want to achieve. This can help you focus your efforts and make sure you stay on track to reach your ultimate goal.

    For example, if you want to start a new business, write down a description of the company you want to build, the products or services you'll offer, and the revenue and profit goals you hope to achieve in the next one to three years.

    Starting with the end in mind isn't just about setting goals, though. It's also about breaking those goals down into smaller, achievable steps and focusing your efforts around those steps. Once you have your big-picture goal figured out, take time to write down the milestones, checkpoints, and deadlines you'll need to hit along the way – and break down each step into smaller, more manageable tasks.

    Say your goal is to run a marathon in six months. You’ll need to write down the specific training plan you'll need to follow, the weekly mileage goals you'll need to hit, and the smaller milestones you'll need to reach along the way, such as running a 10k or half-marathon.

    By starting with the end in mind and planning backward, you can give yourself a clear roadmap to follow and avoid getting sidetracked by distractions or setbacks. These techniques can help you stay focused and motivated, even when the going gets tough.

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    What is Start, Stay, or Leave about?

    Start, Stay, or Leave (2023) provides practical advice for individuals at any stage of their career who are seeking guidance on how to make informed and fulfilling career decisions. Doing so relies on the importance of self-awareness, defining one's purpose and values, and creating a clear plan for achieving one's goals. 

    Who should read Start, Stay, or Leave?

    • People looking to start a new career
    • Workaholics trying to adjust their priorities
    • Anyone looking for advice on how to make life’s big decisions

    About the Author

    Trey Gowdy is a former United States Representative from South Carolina and former federal prosecutor. He gained national attention for his role in the investigations into the 2012 Benghazi attack and the Hillary Clinton email controversy. Gowdy is also the author of the book Doesn't Hurt to Ask.

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