Necessary Endings

Necessary Endings Book

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, Henry Cloud, (New York: Harper Business, 2011).

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Necessary Endings Synopsis

In the book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, author Dr. Henry Cloud equips readers with strategies and tools for executing endings while minimizing pain and harm. In general, most individuals do not like endings regardless of the potential benefits they may bring. Cloud addresses these adversities by reinforcing that endings are natural. Additionally, by taking steps to normalize endings and engaging in the practice, organizations and individual can strive for new growth and improvement.

Key idea #1 – Pruning

Akin to pruning in nature, Cloud makes the argument that organizations need to prune to allow for new growth. Removing the superfluous makes room for the companies to reorganize and focus their efforts on the things that matter. The three categories to nip include:

Healthy buds or branches that are not the best – to remain competitive, organizations must choose between good and the best. Thus, even if there is someone or something that is good if it isn’t the best it must go.

Sick branches – things that are not panning out or working well need to be pruned as soon as possible. The longer organizations hang on to these, the more wasteful it becomes.

Dead branches – these branches, within an organization, take up space. By removing them, the organization paves the way for new potential.

For organizations to prune effectively, they must start with a clear vision. Having a clear vision will provide direction to leaders as to what is unnecessary. It can also ease the pruning process. For example, healthy buds that are heading in the wrong direction still need to be cut in order to achieve the vision.

Key idea #2 – Normalize the endings

The framing of how we see an ending can impact how we feel and react to it. Brains that see something it believes is wrong, will resist and or flee. When brains see something that is right, it will do what it needs to ensure their success. By accepting that endings are part of nature, the brain will execute “conflict-free aggression.” This allows individuals to create purposeful endings rather than traumatic ones.

Key idea #3 – The wise, the foolish, and the evil

Cloud proposes that there are three types of people that you will deal with. By being able to identify and understand these individuals in your life, you can decide whether your relationship with them is worth ending. These three types of individuals are:

The wise people – these individuals have the capacity to change because they are open to and will action on feedback.

The foolish people – individuals who are foolish tend to rationalize why their reality is the only truth. They do not receive feedback well. Therefore, they are unlikely to change. Given this, Cloud recommends to readers to stop talking about the topic when they encounter a foolish person. By doing this, you are instigating the ending by no longer talking about the topic.

The evil people – unlike foolish people, evil people do change. However, their change arises outside of actions that you take. Instead, their change arises as a result of a limit they reach.

Key idea #4 – Silver linings in hopelessness

Hopelessness has an interesting way of driving people to change. This is because when individuals run out of hope, they are left with few to no options. Thus, forcing them to face their reality. Having hope will continue to breed a sense of possibility, which will likely incentivize a person to hang on.

Key takeaways

  • In order to make room for growth, leaders need to “prune” their organization. This means picking between good and the best and leaving the good behind.
  • Hopelessness can catalyze the right behaviors to end certain relationships since the individuals feels as though they have no other options.
  • There are three types of people we encounter in our lives: the wise, the foolish, and the evil. Being able to recognize these individuals in your life is useful for determining which relationships to salvage and which to leave behind.

Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and clinical psychologist. He is recognized as a leadership expert, having helped over 100 companies and 150 million individuals with his programs and books. Cloud specializes in leadership performance and development and leans on his earlier career to bring scientific rigor to his coaching.

Related readings to Necessary Endings:

Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in human resources and leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional PLI resources below will be useful:

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