Ah yes, another encouraging title from my long list of books with impact!
This one came a little late in my leadership journey, as it presented a message I believe I needed to be convinced of earlier on. In my younger years I spoke of moving on from a situation that was not a fit with ease, even if I did not always practice it well. The dust of the last field I worked tended to stay on the soles of my shoes, if you will. In my 30’s I began to hold to an adage that longevity at all cost was both admirable and beneficial. There are plenty of stories that attest to it. But those are not the only stories on a leadership journey well walked; in fact, they are not the norm. I sacrificed my health, my love, and my family in trying to lead without end.
“Your values and those of your employer are like the 2 rails guiding a train. If they ever veer inward or outward, the train cannot move forward.”
This was a quote I received before I finally made the decision to move on and forward. It finally made sense, and I knew it was overdue. It was a ‘necessary ending’ as Dr. Henry Cloud would say. Much wisdom can be gleaned from bad mistakes and beating a dead horse, or becoming the dead horse to stretch the idiom, but it does not always have to be that way. Sometimes the rails have separated and we have to take a step back to evaluate our purpose in the situation.
“Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck…”
I have never been good with endings. I see them as failure and a bad separation. I came
to understand this in my 40’s as I strive to lead freely. Freedom means endings are necessary and happen whether we choose them or not. It is what we do with them that matters most, and many of us who work in positions of social influence, want the good times to roll. When they are not rolling well, if our eyes are blinded by an idea, a hope that is not truly hopeful, working with a group that is looking forward to the end, or we are placing our identity on the results…we have moved past the place of a good ending.
Necessary endings are best realized by taking a healthy look at our current season and the life cycles of which we are naturally a part. That aspect of clarity was lost on me in the moment. Things had moved past me and personal objectivity was absent. Pruning and creating new life had been part of my life leadership, but was now necessary for me to move forward. Pruning is part of healthy growth on the vine, especially when fresh fruit is the desired outcome.
Getting stuck in any one season and calling it ‘normal’ can be a death sentence. It negates the season that is to come and possible growth that is ‘different’ than what was normalized before. Stuck is place of fruitlessness, we open the door to misery. That is trying to replicate our past performance or what we think is expected of us, but may not be natural in this season:
“If leaders are not separate from a particular outcome, then there is real trouble.”
Hopelessness can and will be a natural part of growing past a situation. In fact, we are more inclined at this point to start ‘wishing’, which is often confused with hope. The desire that has no grounds in the current or past performance of the scenario, is a wish. Hope is based on something that we claim as real. Wishful thinking is based on our trying to extend something that has already become fruitful.
When the end has come, we only do ourselves harm by wishing for another day in that current state. Thanks for the clarity Dr. Cloud.