Goodbye Old Friend – It’s Been Real
It’s hard to say goodbye. Period. It’s not easy to let go of something in which you are emotionally bound.
Take these Asics for example. They got me through my first half-marathon. They were with me every Sunday for those long runs – just me, my shoes, and the pavement in the early morning fog. Hours upon hours and miles upon miles, we pushed through the summer heat in preparation for our fall race. When we crossed the finish line together, we shared a moment of accomplishment and gratitude.
That was in 2011, but yet I still hang on to them. Even take them out for a run on occasion. I know I shouldn’t. There’s no tread left. I could easily get injured running in them. They can’t support my body anymore and have far surpassed the 300-400 mile lifespan they were engineered to sustain.
But I still can’t bring myself to throw them away – to bring a necessary ending to our relationship.
One of the speakers at this year’s Leadercast event was Dr. Henry Cloud (@DrHenryCloud), who is a leadership and organizational coach and consultant, and is the author of more than 20 books, including “Boundaries for Leaders” and“Necessary Endings”
Cloud argues that,
The tomorrow that you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things you are doing today.
Dr. Cloud equated the process of bringing about “necessary endings” to that of pruning a shrub. It’s the best buds that need the resources of the vine. These resources will be scarce if they are being spent on sick or plateaued branches.
Now think about this from an organizational leadership perspective. Are you properly resourcing that which brings the most life to your company? Have you had the courage to prune products, strategies, processes, and even people to ensure optimal health and vitality – or do you have some clipping to do?
Just like my running shoes are no longer doing me any good and are actually now posing a threat, there may be aspects of your business that are doing the same, but you are too emotionally connected to let go.
- Maybe it’s a product line that was the brain child of yours and your original business partner. It was once relevant to your market, but you know deep down that it’s not anymore. Clip.
- Or maybe it’s that bright new star you handpicked and mentored. She is making the big deals but is not emulating the behaviors and values of the organization. The coaching isn’t working. She is damaging the team’s culture and levels of engagement. Clip.
- It could be a vendor relationship you’ve had for years. You’ve always done business with them. You’ve shared many holes on the golf course and have even vacationed with each other’s families. However, your business needs have changed. They are unable to meet them. Clip.
It’s not easy to bring about these necessary endings, especially when it involves people. We get attached. But as a leader, you owe it to your entire team to facilitate the best long-term growth and health of the organization. No one said that being a leader would be easy.
Dr. Henry Cloud suggests a process to pruning. Give some thought to the following three questions:
1. What is good but not great?
The true life of a company sometimes rests within only about 20% of its activities. It could all very well be profitable, but not great – not the best. Clip the good so that you can better resource the great.
2. What is dead and taking up space?
This is a bit easier to identify. You will often know right off the top of your head what these activities or resources are but are just avoiding the inevitable. Stop ignoring it and take action.
3. What is sick and won’t get well?
Someone’s or something’s season may be up. What may have once been your most flourishing asset is now a recurring expense. No matter how many more resources you pour into it, its growth is permanently stunted.
So pull out the sheers and start clipping…and watch your business thrive.
Check out more from the Leadercast series on Core Chat: