by Dr. Henry Cloud

Great is the art of the beginning, but greater is the art of ending.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow.

                Regardless your season of life, the tomorrow that you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things that you are doing today. For some people, that is clear and easy to execute. They end the things that are holding them back. For others, it may be much more difficult.

                Endings are a natural part of the universe, and your life and business must face them, stagnate or die. They are an inherent reality. You will also see that there are different kinds of endings and that learning how to tell one from the other, will ensure some success and prevent many failures and much misery, ending substantial pain and turmoil that you or business may now be encountering.

                There are reasons why you may not see the endings that are right in front of you, and reasons why you are unable to execute the ones you do see but feel paralyzed to deal with. But more than learning to see them, there are successful strategies for dealing with them.  

                There is hope for some people and some business problems that seem hopeless to you now, but the problem has been in the misdiagnosing what there’s hope for, and where there’s none, and in mistaking which tactics will not help you realize that hope and which ones will.

The Universality of Endings:

Why endings? Whether we like it or not, endings are part of life. They are woven into the fabric of life itself, both when it goes well, and also when it doesn’t. On the good side of life, for us to ever get to a new level, a new tomorrow, or the next step, something has to end. Life has its seasons, stages, and phases. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all their talents and abilities should afford them. There are relationships that should go away, practices and phases that must be relinquished, and life stages that should come to an end to open the space for the next one. A breakup, and ending of some friendships or activities, or an unplugging from some commitments often signals the beginning of a whole new life. We call it pruning.

Some endings are not a next natural step but are just as necessary. We wish they weren’t, but they are. They come about not in pursuit of growth to the next level, but because something has gone wrong. It’s been said some things die and some things need to be killed. Refraining, giving up, throwing away, tearing down, hating what we once cherished – all are necessary. Endings are the reason you’re not married to your prom date nor still working in your first job. But without the ability to do endings well, we flounder, stay stuck, and fail to reach our goals and dreams. Or worse, we remain in painful and sometimes destructive situations. Endings are crucial, and, we rarely like them. Hence the problem.

Why We Avoid Endings

  1. We hang on too long when we should end something now.
  2. We do not know if an ending is actually necessary, or if “it” or “he/she” is fixable.
  3. We are afraid of the unknown.
  4. We fear confrontation.
  5. We are afraid of hurting someone.
  6. We are afraid of letting go and the sadness associated with an ending.
  7. We do not possess the skills to execute the ending.
  8. We do not know the right words to use.
  9. Our dismal track record of endings wants us to avoid more pain.
  10.  And not learning from former endings, we repeat the same mistakes

No doubt, we all identify with more of these above points than we prefer.

Dr. Cloud’s classic ten methods to combat our “ending afflictions” in this book are summarized below.

  1. Become aware of the absolute necessity for some endings to occur…
  2. Equip your to diagnose when a relationship has hope of getting better and when it should end.
  3. Equip you to diagnose what kinds of people deserve your trust and those who don’t.
  4. Insert endings vocabulary into your continuous improvement culture.
  5. Normalize the idea of endings expecting them rather than being surprised.
  6. Help you actually to get comfortable with all aspects of endings
  7. Understand why previous ending negotiations were not successful.
  8. Learn to execute endings with a flourish, if & when at all possible.
  9. Create vision and energy for a brighter future as you become unstuck.
  10.  Help you stop repeating the same issues over and over again.

At least now, you know where to begin your battle to achieve your necessary endings. As it has been said, the ball is now in your court. Execute well. Isn’t it fun to get unstuck – regardless it be in snow or mud; BUT ESPECIALLY SO, in real time life? merlin

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