Necessary Endings

bookEvery Saturday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, & Relationships that all of us Have to Give up in Order to Move Forward (kindle version) by Henry Cloud.

As the title indicates, the book is about how to know when things have run their course. It looks at how life, business, church, relationships and organizations all have a life cycle. We all know this. We aren’t friends with everyone forever, we don’t have ministries that run forever (although it might feel that way at some churches), we don’t have products that last forever. Things end. People move on. Sometimes that ending is hurtful and sometimes productive. But they happen.

What Cloud does and it is something every leader needs to learn is how to know when that ending is happening (before it’s too late) and how to end it and move on in a healthy way.

For the longest time I’ve been terrible at this. I hold onto relationships too long. I let people who hurt me stay in my head for years. While I’ve grown in this area, I’m nowhere close to where I need to be, which is why I found this book so helpful.

Here are a few things I highlighted:

  • For there to be anything new, old things always have to end, and we have to let go of them.
  • Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth itself demands that we move on. 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.
  • In many contexts, until we let go of what is not good, we will never find something that is good. The lesson: good cannot begin until bad ends.
  • Often, there are no good business reasons for waiting to do something that should be done now.
  • In the simple word pruning is the central theme of what a necessary ending is all about: Removing whatever it is in our business or life whose reach is unwanted or superfluous.
  • Make the endings a normal occurrence and a normal part of business and life, instead of seeing it as a problem.
  • One of the most important aspects to any high performance is the ability to separate one’s personhood from any particular result.
  • the great leaders make “life and death decisions,” which, as he pointed out, were usually about people. Those are the decisions that cause big directional changes in businesses, where the life or death of the vision depends on someone stepping up and acting.
  • What is not working is not going to magically begin working
  • If you comb the leadership literature, one theme runs throughout everyone’s descriptions of the best leaders. The great ones have either a natural ability, or an acquired one, as Collins says, to “confront the brutal facts.”
  • In the absence of real, objective reasons to think that more time is going to help, it is probably time for some type of necessary ending.
  • When truth presents itself, the wise person sees the light, takes it in, and makes adjustments.
  • People resist change that they feel no real need to make.
  • In my experience with businesses and individuals, not paying attention to sustainability is one of the most common reasons that they get into trouble, sometimes unrecoverable trouble.

As a leader, this is a book worth picking up. I think for many pastors, knowing when to end a ministry, a relationship or how to handle a leader who is not performing, this book can be extremely helpful.