How do you feel about endings? From both an intellectual and emotional standpoint? Does it make you sad, anxious, or even angry and regretful? Do you think of it as being practical, useful and necessary to allow for growth, improvement and, progress? How do you feel about endings? When we have become invested and, attached to something, letting go can be difficult. Ending something can be difficult; especially if that ending is not of our own free will.
But when does it become necessary for an ending to take place?
“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”, says Henry Cloud, author of the book Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward.
Knowing When to Prune/End
A google search for pruning gives this definition in the top results: “reduce the extent of something by removing superfluous or unwanted parts.”
Cloud, describes three types of necessary endings:
- Since the plant only has enough resources to feed and nurture so many buds to their full potential, the gardener examines to see the buds most worthy of the resources and cuts the other buds away.
- Some branches are sick and despite of all that is done by the gardener to nurse them back to health it is obvious that they are not going to get better. Therefore, they are cut away.
- The branches that are dead and that are taking up space that the healthy branches need to grow to their full length and height are cut away.
Any reasonable person would say that Cloud’s analogy is correct, for it makes sense to maximize the use of our limited resources.
There is much that we can learn from nature and the pruning process is one of them. Professor Leyser, of the University of York’s Department of Biology, says, “It is well known that the main growing shoot of a plant can inhibit the growth of the shoots below – that’s why we prune to encourage growth of branches.” University of York. “Explaining Why Pruning Encourages Plants To Thrive.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090922095705.htm>.
Nonetheless, pruning can be painful. Not only that, what do you do when you are the branch being pruned?
Responding to Pruning
What circumstances are you facing at the moment? What ending or endings are you facing? Is it a job? Maybe it is a relationship? Maybe even a business venture or project? Whatever the ending, you will recover and you will soar again! It may be difficult to see it now but you will. It is all a matter of perspective. John Maxwell wrote, “the difference between average people and achieving people is their response to failure.” This is why I say you will soar again. With the right response and attitude, you will.
Also important for you to remember, is that your self-worth is not dependent on that job, or relationship or business or project. You are not less of a person nor are you a failure because it has come to an end. Your self-worth comes from the one who created you, your character and who you are at your core. Your value is not decreased because of this bump in the road and there is no victory without adversity.
Consider this example. Thomas Edison’s teachers thought he was too stupid to learn, he was also once fired from a job, but yet he is one of the most talked about inventors of all time. We have him to thank for the creation of the light bulb which he created after not one, or two or even three, but after 1000 failed attempts.
Dealing with Endings
Be prepared! Having prior knowledge of the imminent pruning gives you time to prepare. Take a lesson from the ant. Ants have no ruler, no boss, or no leader, but gathers their food in the summer, making provision for when winter comes (see Proverbs 6:6-8). Whatever form that preparation takes for you, just be prepared.
Grieve. It is important to grieve because by doing so you free up your mental and emotional energy for what is to come next. If you don’t, you will remain tied to it making it difficult to take the next steps and robbing yourself of much-needed energy to do so. We all grieve in different ways, so whatever the grieving process looks like for you, allow yourself that time and space.
It is important to know that acceptance is a part of the grief process. It is one of the 5 stages of grief. It does not necessarily mean that you are happy at this stage or that you have moved past the grief. “It does, however, mean that you’ve accepted it and have come to understand what it means in your life now.”
Explore untapped resources. There is so much deposited in us. So many abilities, skills, talents, and gifts. We have not been created with just one possibility. We were created by a marvelous and boundless God, who created us with endless potential and possibilities. “You must decide if you are going to rob the world or bless it with the rich, valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you”, says Myles Munroe, in his book Understanding your Potential: Discovering the Hidden You.
Our humanness demands that we resist pain and seek pleasure. Hence the reason we will always try to dodge pain. We have already established that endings are painful. However, let us not be ignorant of the fact that endings also give way to new beginnings. It is only when one day ends that another begins.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the things of the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
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