Preface of the book: Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow. In your business and perhaps your 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.

I borrowed this book from the library after Bill Hybels referred to it at GLS (Global Leadership Summit 2017). There are many good principles I want to remember. Since I don’t own this book (don’t want to spend money on another book), I will outline the chapters here so I’ll remember and quote on line from each.

Chapter 1 Endings: The good cannot begin until the bad ends

  • The Universality of Endings – Endings are crucial, but we rarely like them.
  • Why We Avoid Endings – We hang on too long when we should end something now.
  • The Real Reason – Something about the leaders’ personal makeup gets in their way.

Chapter 2 Pruning: Growth depends on getting rid of the unwanted or the superfluous

Necessary Ending Type 1 – healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones; not sick but not best Necessary Ending Type 2 – sick branches that are not going to get well Necessary Ending Type 3 – dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive

  • Pruning Your Business And Your Life – The areas of your business and life that require your limited resources – your time, energy, talent, emotions, money – but are not achieving the vision you have for them should be pruned.
  • Gut Check – Reality sometimes makes us face things that hurt, and that can be a very good thing.
  • What Is The Purpose You’re Pruning Toward? – Define what you are shooting for, and then prune against that standard.
  • More Than Cutting Expenses – Don’t just “cut back” and think that you have pruned. Pruning is strategic. It is directional and forward-looking.
  • Subcategory Pruning – The idea here is that it is not just an entire company or life that needs pruning; the devil is in the details as well. If people could learn to say things like, “We only have a little time, let’s stay away from certain issues and focus on what we can do something about,”… (make better use of meetings)
  • In Life As Well – …if you change and become a person capable of executing necessary endings, you will not only have better business performance, but you will also be less likely to … be stuck in some other area of life.

Chapter 3 Normalizing necessary endings: Welcome the seasons of life into your worldview

  • Make Endings Normal -
  1. Accept life cycles and seasons – Am I hanging on to  an activity, product, strategy, or relationship whose season has passed? What tasks do I need to change to enter the new season?
  2. Accept that life produces too much life – So they can cut these ties without feeling that “something is wrong” or that they are “being mean to someone.” They respect the fact that there are limits to what they can do…
  3. Accept that incurable sickness and evil exist – Accept terminal illness and failure as a valid possibility.
  • A Different Universe – They do not want this universe…where some people just don’t change and still others truly want to hurt you. But this is the only universe we have…

Chapter 4 When stuck is the new normal: The difference between pain with a purpose and pain for no good reason

Sometimes we are stuck for reasons that are truly outside of our control. But more times than we realize, we are not executing an ending because of internal factors, not external ones.

  • Internal Maps – …productive people did not think in a learned-helplessness way. Their internal software was more optimistic. When the map says that nothing you do matters, then you stop focusing on the things that you do have control over, things that actually do matter and that can make a difference.
  • Examine Your Internal Map. Five Internal Maps -
  1. Having an abnormally high pain threshold – But not until he saw how his software has been written to negate, minimize, put up with, and carry a lot of pain, all the while telling himself it was “not that bad or he “could buckle up and keep on going.”
  2. Covering for others – Some people take too much responsibility for others. I often tell leaders that many of them have a problem just because of who they are: nice and responsible people.
  3. Believing That Ending It Means I Failed – Leaders, like most good people, persevere. There is a toxic version of not quitting. If you quit any one thing, you are a quitter instead of being wise.
  4. Misunderstood loyalty – Some people often feel that they will harm people if they hurt them.Or such a person may feel that she will destroy someone’s life if she makes a decision that is good for her but requires the other person to take some responsibility for the outcome. But loyal love does not mean infinite and/or misplaced responsibility for another’s life, nor does it mean that one forever puts up with mistreatment out of inappropriate loyalty.
  5. Codependent mapping – There is a difference between helping someone who is disabled, incapable, or otherwise infirm versus helping someone who is resisting growing up and taking care of what every adult has to be responsible for: herself or himself.  When you find yourself in any way paying for someone else’s responsibilities, not only are you stuck with a delayed ending, but you are probably harming that person.
  • Past Experiences – Once they become aware that this is an old map in their heads and not the reality that exists around them, they can be given to take action and make the endings needed to construct an entirely new reality, quite different from the one they thought they were stuck with.

Chapter 5 Getting to the pruning moment: Realistic, Hopeless, and Motivated

The awareness of hopelessness is what finally brings people to the reality of the pruning moment.

  • Seeing The Reality Of A Needed Pruning – After the initial shock and discouragement, seeing the bare truth that what we are doing is leading nowhere will get us to change something.
  • The Old Way Must End – Summary of the steps discussed so far:
  1. Do a gut check to see how you feel about pruning in general and identify any potential intellectual or emotional resistance.
  2. Make the concept of endings a normal occurrence and a normal part of business and life, so you expect and look for them instead of seeing them as a problem.
  3. Identify the internal maps that keep you from executing necessary endings.
  • The Big Change Motivator: Get Hopeless – hope is good but false hope is not.
  • Wishing Versus Hoping – Hope is based not only on desire, but also unreal, objective reasons to believe that more time will help.

Chapter 6 Hoping versus wishing: The difference between what’s worth fixing and what should end

  • The Past Is The Best Predictor – Without any new information or actions, the past is the best predictor of the future.
  • The Anatomy Of Hope – What reason is there to have hope that tomorrow is going to be different?
  • Who Deserves My Trust? – Promises by someone who has a history of letting you down in a relationship mean nothing certain in terms of the future.
  • When To Suspend Hopelessness -
  1. Verifiable involvement in a proven change process
  2. Additional structure
  3. New experiences and skills
  4. Self-sustaining motivation
  5. Admission of need
  6. The presence of support
  7. Skilled help
  8. Some success
  • What New Wisdom Is Being Added? – You can have objective hope if you are bringing some new knowledge, wisdom, or know-how to the situation.
  • Hope That Does Not Disappoint – How do you know when to keep trying and when to give up?

Chapter 7 The wise, the foolish, and the evil: identifying which kinds of people deserve your trust

You have concern about how what you do affects others. So doesn’t it make sense that everyone else would be like you and really care? Sure, if you lived on Mars.

  • The Three Kinds of People
  • Wise People – When truth presents itself, the wise person sees the light, takes it in, and makes adjustments.
  • The Foolish Person – The fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it. Quit talking about the problem and clearly communicate that because talking is not helping, you are going to take steps to protect what is important to you, the mission, or the other people. Give limits that stop the collateral damage of their refusal to change…
  • Evil People – Stay away.

Chapter 8 Creating urgency: Stay motivated and energized for change

We will look at some of the accelerators that will get you moving, and some of the in-the-moment thinking patterns that slow you down and keep you from making the changes you need to make.

  • Creating Urgency
  • Strategies For Creating Urgency
  1. Create “ending alliances”
  2. Create vision – of how things could be better
  3. Set deadlines
  4. Create structure
  5. Stay close to the misery
  6. Measure, measure, measure
  7. Use authority to make an executive decision
  8. Urgent is the new normal

Chapter 9 Resistance: How to tackle internal and external barriers

  • Incompatible Wishes – such as I want to invest my money, and I want that new car. Part of maturity is getting to the place where we can let go of one wish in order to have another.
  • No Attachment To A Certain Outcome
  • Medicating Thoughts
  1. “I’ll do it later”
  2. Selective memory
  • The Paradox Of “Whole Vision” – It is only when a person can see the whole picture and work with it as it is that lasting success happens.
  • External Resistances -
  1. Self-absorbed resisters – Sometimes people put up resistance because your decision is going to affect them in some way and they do not want that change…This type of person can appear friendly, offering “advice” to “help” you, but he is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  2. Threatened resisters – Whether in business or personal life, when you do something difficult but worthy, if confronts people with their own lives… Ask them also how they feel about the reality of what happens if you don’t make the necessary change…
  3. The NoNos – They often is not open to what we call “assimilations and accommodation,”…His three strategies are to distract them, push them out of the organization, or exposed him to the power of the group…working with a NoNo is not going to help.
  4. Stuff happens when you change – Getting things done is hard, or more people would be doing it. So accept the fact that endings are difficult and hard to implement.

Chapter 10 No more Mr. Bad Guy: The magic of self-selection

  • Self-Selection – …Set a standard for what you want, regardless of what particular individual you are dealing with. Then the person gets to choose whether or not she wants to meet that standard.
  • Self-Selection For Your Own Attachments – …it is a good idea to know how much of your life or resources you want to spend on something before you lose them all.
  • Chapter 11 Having the conversation: Strategies for ending things well
  • Begin With The End In Mind – such as “I want to leave the conversation having said that I care about the person.” “I want to leave the conversation with the person knowing that although the project is over, I want to relationship to continue.”
  • Integrate Care And Truth Inside Yourself – Remind yourself that you care about the person and truly want the best for him.
  • Practice And Role-Play If Necessary
  • Get The Tone Right
  • Validate The Person And The Relationship
  • Get Agreement
  • Deal With Defensiveness and Reactions – Whether or not she gets it is not in your control. But remaining empathetic and clear is in your control.
  • You May Need Others
  • Often, The Outcome Is Good
  • Except In Rare Cases, Don’t Burn Bridges
  • Above All, Don’t Be Squishy

Chapter 12 Embrace the Grief: The importance of Metabolizing Necessary Endings

The danger when people do not face their grief is twofold. First, to keep from facing it, they sometimes continue to beat a dead horse, hanging onto false hope or staying angry at what is past. Second, denying the grief often leads people to do strange things on the rebound, which are really attempts to keep from feeling the grief involving letting go. It is a defense mechanism…The reason is that the new whatever is chosen out of need, not merit. The person rushes to something new to avoid feeling grief, disappointment, and loss. Example: have a funeral, a symbol, closure.

  • Metabolize The Ending To Your Benefit – You have to look at the experience and break it apart. What was good about it? The relationships? The learnings?…Take all of that and consciously make it a part of you, savor it, remember it,… build on it, focus on it so it is not lost. And on the negative side, there are some things that you will want to eliminate, You saw some things, did some things… Take the wisdom out of it, learn from it, and then eliminate what is not useful to you. The pain, the bitterness, the feelings of failure, the loss in the grief, and the resentment all need to be eliminated and left behind.
  • Team Metabolizing
  • Personal Endings
  • The Bottom Line – Facing your grief, working through, and letting it equip you is a significant part of a good necessary ending.

Chapter 13 Sustainability: Taking inventory of what is depleting your resources

If you were doing anything that by definition cannot continue because the source itself is being depleted or damaged, and ending is not only necessary, it is vital and urgent…”Are you in a physical state right now that is not sustainable? To much travel? Too little sleep? To much “on the go”? To much taxing of your physical system? For a prolonged period of time with no end in sight?

Chapter 14 Conclusion: It’s all about the future

Your next step always depends on two ingredients: how well you’re maximizing where you are right now and how ready you are to do what is necessary to get to the next place. And sometimes that depends on ending some of what is happening today.


2 Responses to “Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud”

  1. Aaron Says:

    These are a lot of great and helpful quotes! I feel like I just read the book for myself.

    This is good for me. I often think about endings in terms of reaching a goal (like ending school) or reaching a milestone (like ending being single, or ending being childless). But not all endings are happy.

    There will undoubtedly be endings in my business and creative endeavors. But what I might struggle the most with in the future is ending and saying goodbye to gospel and church ministries.

  2. Joyful Says:

    Some things you don’t have to end. What I got out of the book was to cut back on things strategically in order to be able to focus on the things I do want to do.

Leave a Reply