Endings and Beginnings
Remember the days when we started a year with a clean slate of planning and goal setting? As a business owner I have made it a ritual of sorts to embrace a wrap up and celebration at the year’s end and put new energy and vision into beginning a new one. We made room for some continuation of course; those things we didn’t quite finish. But my energy has always been on endings and beginnings.
This year feels different for me. I find myself in between an ending and a beginning of 2020 and 2021. What once seemed to be a natural time of reflective endings and hopeful new beginnings seems instead like a stubborn ending and a cautious or should I say chaotic beginning. The challenges of a COVID-filled year around the world, and the social and political dis-ease in the US remain; they will follow us all into this New Year.
I don’t recall having to carry so much uncertainty and unpredictability from one year into another. I could say this is just the VUCA world we have been reading and talking about but, it is not an experience that can be simply explained away.
I imagine we all want to put an end to 2020. But I also want to begin 2021 with my eyes wide open. So I have chosen to set aside that clean slate I was hoping for in order to ask some of my trusted friends and colleagues to reflect on what endings and beginnings mean to them as we navigate this unusual transition to a New Year.
Interestingly, their answers belonged to two trains of thoughts, one which addressed the clear distinctions between one process of ending and another of beginning, while the other group considered the concepts of ending and beginning as two sides of the same coin.
I invite you to reflect on these ideas with the following prompt:
What do endings and beginnings mean to you right now?
Alyssa Walles – SVP Publishing, MWM Interactive, Los Angeles
Endings: no love lost for the daily commute.
Beginning: looking forward to an opportunity to build a work life and future that is multi-dimensional.
Jay Golden – Speaker, Storytelling Coach, Author of Retellable and Retellable Journal
I feel like it’s Happy ‘1 instead of ’21. We are beginning all again, and in it beginning truly anew. A reboot. I’ve been considering what things I’m ready to say that I wasn’t ready to say two years ago. Considering so much more deeply what world I want to and need to help create. Realizing that our local systems, and networks of trust have never been more in need of tending. And most of all, I’ve been considering this: What of my essence is ready to come to life that wasn’t ready before? How am I more ready to align my inner world with the outer world? That’s what coming into ‘1 is about for me.
Edie Goldberg – Future of Work Expert, Speaker, Talent Management Consultant and co-author of “The Inside Gig”
Unfortunately, from a COVID-19 perspective I don’t think anything is ending anytime soon. However, 2020 has been a year of reacting to unplanned events that resulted in dramatic changes to our businesses. So to me, it is the end of being in reactionary mode. In 2021 it is time for us all to be more purposeful and strategic in our planning. I believe that recent events have demonstrated how our current processes and business models need to become more adaptive. We don’t need 3 years for a digital transformation – it can happen in 3 weeks! Our employees don’t have to just do their job (in one specific place) – they can add value where we need them the most. It is now time to reflect on our processes, policies, and practices and innovate how we operate to build the capabilities that we need to quickly respond to change. Because the one thing that is for certain – there will be more change coming soon.
Paul Chiames – Leadership Coach, Former CHRO, Stanford University/SLAC
Endings: A moment of reflection to feel the warmth and joy from what has transpired, and look towards what can still be better.
Beginnings: Hope. Hope for all that can be. The continual pursuit of mental, emotional, spiritual growth, and joy.
Bob Johansen – Bob Johansen, Institute for the Future
Author of Full-Spectrum Thinking and eleven other books.
"I'm just reading Susan Beaumont's thoughtful book about leading in what she calls a "liminal season," those transitions where we live between the not over and the not yet. In 2021, we are in a space between in so many ways (play Dave Matthews "The Space Between" while you ponder this) where we need to learn by not judging too soon--or deciding too late. We all need the future leadership skill I call "dilemma flipping" and 2021 will be laced with dilemmas that cry out for flipping."
Reference: Susan Beaumont, HOW TO LEAD When You Don't Know Where You're Going: Leading in a Liminal Season, Rowan & Littlefield, 2019
Tamara Sicard, PhD – Organization Consultant/Coach, Co-Creator of REACH, author (add books)
As the end of the year grew closer I heard more and more people express their good riddance to 2020, and their sentiment that 2021 could not come quickly enough. I so wanted to share in the hopefulness that 2021 would be a new beginning for us all, especially for our first responders, our aging parents, and our kids. But I found myself pulled between the two, the boundary between them still blurred. I have found myself thinking about the clear boundary between endings and beginnings as blurry too; more like the glass that’s half empty and half full, depending on the perspective I take.
When I consider the half empty glass I attend to what is not there – the freedom to travel, community life, schools, supply chains, toilet paper (for goodness sake). These are all endings in terms of life as we knew it.
When I consider the glass as half full I can see what is possible in our new virtual world – a road trip across the country to see family and friends (outdoors of course); more work-life integration; more creative ideas for how to navigate ourselves and our organizations through the disruption of COVID. These are all new beginnings.
The blurry space between 2020 and 2021 is filled loss and endings as well as human ingenuity, insight and possibility. The distinction between them is my limitation – I can only hold and focus on one at a time. But they are, for me, the same glass. The challenge is in making room for both.
Diana Hendel – Leadership Coach, Consultant and Former hospital CEO, Author of “Responsible” and “Why Cope When You Can Heal”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” For many years, I took the time to write resolutions for the new year, my energy focused on moving forward – not looking back – with anticipation and hopefulness of the future. Now I take the time in my annual process of resolution-setting to deeply reflect on the past, identify what I might be still be carrying – habits, mindsets, events – that are holding me back, that need to be resolved, that I need to let go of…I’ve learned that the ability to start anew, more often than not, requires active closure too.
Charles Antis – Founder and CEO Antis Roofing & Waterproofing, Orange County, CA
What is the one thing that we can be all-in for, with both arms? Charles tells the story of a friend who lived in a region with civil wars and recalls giving blood to a hospital that was desperate for a supply of blood for patients. He walked into the hospital and gave blood from both arms one day and Charles relays, the symbolic nature of this. He goes on to say, “This is a big time, the time to have impact.” Together we can truly make this beginning of the year better for all. He says, “ I ask everyone, what is that thing that you can have passion for, that you can be all-in with both arms, and be all-in for impact?” Charles states, “this is my new beginning, because if I can have impact, I sleep better and can be better.”