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Necessary endings

As part of my Ohio University master’s program, I was asked to submit a book report for the final class that I took in Team Leadership. I selected a book called Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud. I wanted to understand how to better work with athletes at the end of the season – how to create an ending that matched up with the expectations of the athlete and allowed them and the program that I was working with to move forward.

What I discovered upon reading the book is that it is not an overview describing how to conduct exit interviews with players (or employees). Instead, it focused on how to extricate one’s self (or one’s organization) from situations that are less than desirable. Put another way, the book was more about dealing with situations that need to be ended rather than dealing with the end. And that was a surprise. I was able to relate many of the anecdotes within the book to conditions I’ve encountered in my professional career as well as my coaching career.

We often look at endings as failures. What is interesting about this book is that it normalizes endings. Rather than looking at endings as failures, it redefines endings as opportunities for new successes.

One of the topics that Cloud (2011) discussed in the preface is the variety of reasons why we may not see the endings right in front of us. Sometimes we see the ending, but we’re not able to execute as we feel paralyzed. I’ve encountered this in situations where I know I’m not doing the right thing by continuing, or I know that what’s happening is not in my best interest or my family’s best interest, and yet I continue to do those things. I’ve observed this not just in coaching, soccer, or athletics, but in life. One of the things that’s great about this book is that not only does it talk about how these situations occur, but the author also identifies strategies to execute an ending and then come out the back end, so to speak, with a more positive outlook on the future.

Cloud (2011) provided some good examples of why we avoid endings: hanging on too long, not knowing if the ending is necessary, being afraid of the unknown, and being afraid of confrontation. These are all circumstances that I have personally experienced as well as observed other people experiencing.

The book is geared for business environments and management. But it can also be turned around to look at from the standpoint of being an employee, or player, or from the coaching standpoint – for example being a coaching director where one has to make decisions about the staff. The topic is also relevant to the coach – trying to determine which players are on board and perhaps which players or even parents are not and having to make decisions about how to move forward. It’s a harsh truth, but it’s a truth that I’ve discovered over the years: sometimes the best way to move forward is with people that are committed to the structure and goals of the organization.

And that results in more harmony within the team.


Cloud, H. (2011). Necessary endings: The employees, businesses, and relationships that all of us have to give up in order to move forward. Zondervan.

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