Necessary Endings: the Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have To Give up in Order to Move Forward

by Dr. Henry Cloud

Making Difficult Decisions to Help People Move on

I’ve recommend this book to a number of my clients! It is an easy read, very practical yet offers a lot of wisdom! In my coaching practice I send this book out to clients who are struggling to make a decision regarding retirement, closing a law practice, and general questions about any of life transitions. The book helps establish a common vocabulary for decisions and family meetings.

Dr. Cloud tells you what you need to know and the steps to do something about it in a very positive way. In addition to providing directions for important business decisions, Dr. Cloud includes excellent insights for your own personal relationships. I have had more than one client who has purchased a copy of this book for their spouse.

Several of his chapters include:

  • Normalizing Necessary Endings: Welcome the Seasons of Life into Your Worldview
  • Hoping Versus Wishing: The Difference between What’s Worth Fixing and What Should End
  • Resistance: How to Tackle Internal and External Barriers
  • Having the Conversation: Strategies for Ending Things Well

In the Preface to this book, Dr. Cloud states, “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 you are doing today.” He goes on to say that it is his wish that, “Readers will be comfortable and confident in seeing, negotiating, and even celebrating some endings that may be the door to a future even brighter than you could have imagined.”

Dr. Cloud effectively uses storytelling throughout the book to describe how necessary endings by the very nature are both real and relevant and, when implemented properly people learn to succeed. When they’re done poorly or not at all, people continue to suffer. 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.

Getting to the next level in your transition always require ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. In business, endings often are absolute necessities for a turnaround or for growth to occur. They are also absolutely necessities for winding down a business.

Endings are also an important factor in our personal lives. 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 up the space for the next one. A breakup, and ending of some friendships or activities, or in unplugging from some commitments often signals the beginning of a whole new life. Leaving a business or law practice after 30 – 40 years or more on the job requires “Necessary Endings” for anyone.

I frequently see lawyers stuck in firms that are just not working. These individuals have a leadership step to shut it down or pull out of it. It’s failing and can’t be fixed. Endings are not only part of life; they are requirements for living and thriving, professionally and personally. Unfortunately, we often do not do them well so this book can be very helpful. For many of us, the reality is that we as humans avoid them or botch them.

Ask yourself why if you have experienced any of these feelings:

  • You hang on too long when you should end something now.
  • You are afraid of the unknown.
  • You are afraid of letting go because of the sadness associated with an ending.
  • You fear confrontation, because you do not possess the skills to execute the endings.

We do not always get to choose timing for endings. They can be thrust upon us by circumstances beyond our control. Death of a spouse, business failure or illness are not certainly not planned and these kinds of endings can render us broken. This book should serve as a good guide for your future, because when we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on.

I first listen to Necessary Endings on Audiobooks, but then I went back to purchase several copies for my clients.

Stephen P. Gallagher

Uncle Hugh’s grave stone in Brittany France.