Onward and Upward … Necessary Endings
“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” `Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Ever find yourself holding on to something, because you didn’t want to be seen as a quitter or you wanted to keep the peace or you wanted to please somebody?
Maybe you’re stuck with a job or a manager who squashed your creativity, undermined your authority, or belittled you?
Maybe it has nothing to do with work but is a friendship you’ve kept that is stress-inducing. Or a marriage that is emotionally hurtful, or maybe even physically hurtful, but you’re too scared to let go? Or how about that family member that drains you but you keep going back for more. Can anybody relate?
These are what Henry Cloud calls necessary endings, and it’s the title of a book I just finished reading. Actually just finished listening to. What would we do without Audible? If you haven’t been exposed to audible yet, it’s time. Audible is a great way to take advantage of moments in the car or chores around the house. Okay, back to the topic. These necessary endings aren’t about quitting; they’re about recognizing when hope is lost for things to get better and making a necessary and intentional plan to bring something, whether a relationship, job, or behavior to an end.
This has been a huge shift to my “don’t be a quitter” mindset. According to Cloud, “without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” I had never looked at endings that way. I tended to see them as failure or quitting versus something that could be holding me back.
If you’re like this too, and stuck thinking you have to stick things out, consider shifting your thinking and looking at it through a different lense. Everything has an end just like everything has a beginning. Cloud says that when we look at life, we can see this play out everywhere; our kids must stop crawling in order to walk. They must also stop relying on us in order to leave the nest and build their own adult lives. We stop watering the lawn in the fall to allow it to go dormant for the winter season.
Endings. They’re everywhere.
Cloud asks, “…are there situations in business or in life where you are trying to birth things that should be dying? Trying to heal something that should be killed off? Laughing at something that you should be weeping about? Embracing something (or someone) you should shun? Searching for an answer for something when it is time to give up? Continuing to try to love something or someone when it is time to talk about what you hate?”
What necessary endings do you have to close in your life? Remember, it’s not about quitting, it’s about making a start to something better. Think of it like pruning. “Pruning is strategic. It is directional and forward-looking. It is intentional toward a vision, desires, and objectives that have been clearly defined and are measurable.”
Not sure where to start the pruning process? Grab the book. It’s full of strategies for identifying what should end as well as strategies to move thru the endings.