I learnt this truth by accident. You can only begin after you have called the end.
In August 1995 I made a career change with nothing obvious to go to next. No job, no options, and no network. One career ended. A new one was supposed to begin. Sometime. There was an ending. A goodbye. A completion. A farewell.
In September 2007 the pattern repeated itself. An ending with nothing obvious next. Once again, in December 2016, an ending with no clear beginning.
There can be no new beginning without a clear ending. This is true personally, for the team you’re part of and it’s true for your tribe or organisation. There is always a new after the old. After every death there is a resurrection. A resurrection of soul, of perspective, of clarity, of relationships, of career, of confidence and influence. It’s all waiting for you on the other side of a necessary ending.
In working with organisations, teams and executives, I use a foundational rule of human behaviour that states, “Everyone has a strategy for everything.” That strategy creates a pattern. The pattern delivers results. These might be results you either want or don’t want. But you get results none the less. You have a strategy you use to navigate endings and beginnings and it’s either helping you create the future or creating a future you’ll need help with.
We don’t end things for three big reasons:
- We are fearful of what we don’t know and choose the status quo.
- We don’t have the skills to make the change and so stay in the present situation.
- We lack self-awareness surrounding our behaviours and its implications.
What about the ending you didn’t choose? The one thrust upon you by the authority of another, a change in direction, a failure of nerve, bad luck or even bad behaviour?
When the ending isn’t your choice, do these three things:
- In the moments you have, acknowledge that this is an ending you didn’t choose.
- With the right people, grieve whatever loss you have experienced.
- When the timing is right seek the gift in the ending and consider a better, bigger and brighter future.
If you’re considering an ending then make sure you finish, then begin. How do you do that?
- Name it as finished. When you call it complete it helps you move past it. This serves closure.
- Process the learnings. When you look for the lesson you serve your development. This develops new skills.
- Prepare for the new. Consider the future you and the emergence of opportunity. This creates awareness.
Three career changes later I’m more confident than ever to call it ‘ended’ and enter the new. You might also need the death before the bigger, better and brighter resurrection.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.