Graceful Endings

This year has been full of endings and full of various emotions that coincide with these endings. With any ending there is certainly loss and pain but there is also an opportunity for growth and creativity. I have often felt like I have been in the passenger’s seat of many of these endings…. not driving the car but having an up close and personal experience with the ride. Some of the endings have been disjointed and selfish, with a total lack of regard for the participants. Other endings have been purposeful, meaningful, intentional, and beautiful even in the midst of the loss.

These experiences have led me to reflect on this important question: How can we create endings that leave our participants feeling gratified, valued, and seen versus feeling as if there is unfinished business left to complete?

Part of the answer to this question is up to us individually. In fact, our response is all we have control over when it comes to endings.  When an ending does not represent who we are or does not align with the work we have done, we must decide how we close the loop. In other words, how do you want your story to end…that is the part you get to write.  Whether you are a high school student who is graduating, a professional transitioning careers or entering retirement, a parent sending their child off to kindergarten, an individual diagnosed with a chronic disease, you get to decide the ending to what once was. Perhaps it is a celebration or a transitional ritual you want to plan. Maybe you want to gather a few close individuals to recount memories and milestones. You may want to write a letter to your favorite teachers or team members expressing gratitude. Perhaps you want to journal about the ending and spend time in nature reflecting. Whatever you decide to do to honor your endings, be intentional. Being intentional allows you to close the loop so that you can fully move forward.

However, if we are leading, then it is our responsibility as a leader is to make sure endings are created with intention, purpose, and encapsulates the meaningful contribution of the person/persons that are a part of the ending. This means as leaders knowing the people we lead, paying attention to what the person(s) bring to the table, and building a system that gives honor and value to a variety of endings through a variety of mechanisms. All too often I see leaders who dismiss endings, leaving their followers questioning their value and importance.

With any ending comes great responsibility. As a leader, find meaningful ways to honor, value, and celebrate those you are leading. As an individual, find ways to write your own ending. Both are important to a graceful ending!

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