No matter what it is, ending well matters.

Whether a much needed vacation, retirement from a meaningful career, ending a relationship, navigating a courageous conversation, saying goodbye to a parent, or the last line in your manuscript, ending well there starts right here. By now we have hopefully learned that absolute control over anything is…well..a joke. However, mindful consideration of a desired outcome can help us better order our steps from here to there.  But while we can work mightily to achieve a goal, make things go our way, craft a specific outcome, influence another person, or take all the right steps, there will always be an element of “it’s a crap shoot”. If we focus solely on exactly how we would like things to turn out, we’ve missed the deeper issue. What matters even more than how it turns out, is who we are in that moment. The essence of beginning with the end in mind can be summed up in one question: When the end of whatever “it” is comes, who do we want to be?

Examples of endings are everywhere. Some that end well, and others not so much. Whether you are an NFL fan or not, this years Super Bowl is a prime example. The Carolina Panthers, led by their talented, brash young quarterback Cam Newton, were the hands-down favorite. Expected by everyone, including themselves, to win. They didn’t.  By a long shot.  An hour after the game, Cam Newton stepped in front of the microphone as the leader of his team, to fulfill his media obligation.  Hoodie pulled low over his face, he sat in a chair, eyes down, gave short sullen answers until getting up and walking out mid-interview. Did he want to win?  Of course!  Why else would he play the game?  Had he given thought to who he wanted to be, win or lose?  Apparently not.  Compare that to last years Super Bowl when the Seattle Seahawks, led by their talented, humble young quarterback Russell Wilson, experienced an even more devastating loss.  Expected by many, including themselves to win, they didn’t. Within seconds of winning the game, with that ill-fated, still debated call…. they lost.  An hour later Russell Wilson stepped in front of the microphone as the leader of his team, to fulfill his media obligation.  Suit and tie, he stood, faced the camera, expressed appreciation for his teammates, took responsibility for the loss, and praised the winning team. Did he want to win?  Yes!  Why else would he play the game? Had he given thought to who he wanted to be win or lose?  Apparently so.

One of the greatest lessons in ending well came for me personally when my mom passed away.  Her name was Ashby, and the word that best describes who she was and how she walked through the world is ‘grace’. There was nothing Asbhy loved more than what she liked to call a “good visit”.  Whenever you showed up on her doorstep, announced or not, whatever the task at hand was set aside and replaced with a cup of tea, served in her best china.  She was short on advice and long on understanding. She loved by listening. The last week of her life we brought her back from the hospital to the home she loved and tucked her into the bed she still shared with my dad.  Every day was filled with her grace, along with a constant stream of friends and family who came by for one more good visit. They would sit on her bed and talk to her, sing to her, laugh and cry with her. No longer able to speak, she did what she did best.  She loved by listening. After she was gone, I realized that I had been given the opportunity to stand at the end of her life, and look back on my own. From that vantage point I understood that ending her life with grace wasn’t the result of some grand decision, but rather is an accumulation of choices.

As I reflect on this topic I am reminded of something Mr. Carson, the butler of Downton Abbey said.  “The business of life is the accumulation of memories.  In the end, that’s all we have.”  The way in which we end things is either the accumulation of a memory or a regret.  To gather more memories, begin with the end in mind.

What endings are on your radar screen? When the end of whatever “it” is comes, who do you want to be? What would ending well in those situations mean? Now is when ending well starts. Here is where it begins. This present moment is what you have to work with.

This blog post also appears on Trailhead Coaching & Consulting
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As 2015 draws to a close, Kristine and I send all of you our crazy-deep thanks for walking the planet with us.  Our Matters That Matter work continues, and we love it as much as ever.  We are also each finding work that fills our individual souls…  please, oh please, visit Kristine’s website to see what she is up to… Bean Pole Pottery  Every piece she makes takes one’s breath away!
Molly is about to launch her new business – Trailhead Coaching and Consulting.  In anticipation for her website going “live” (mid-January) here is a final post to end 2015 well, and step into 2016.

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It’s almost here.  

A new year.

As I sit at my desk writing this post, outside my window, it’s winter.  3ft of snow, icicles hanging from the roof, the sun moving across the sky while never clearing the tree line, and the world seems to be holding its breath, quietly waiting for…. something.  

 

Just back from visiting friends and family, having spent time with some of those we love most, it seems that there is a theme afoot among those we spend time with.  That theme?  Anticipation. Every single conversation over the holiday season shed a different speck of the same light on the year ahead. No one knows for sure what is coming, what exactly lies ahead, or what specifically is over the next rise.  But one thing they do know for damn sure, is that “it” is coming their way. They are anticipating its arrival, not expecting it.  They are preparing for it, not planning for it. They are listening for it, not talking to it.  They are holding it lightly, not gripping it tightly.  

Expectation is enclosed, signaling a kind of certainty, and like a practical-minded project leader, it is focused on what should happen.  Anticipation has an openness to it, a sense of wonder and childlike delight, giddy about what could happen.   

Expectation is a  spotlight.  Anticipation is a sparkler.

Expectation seems cramped, a wee bit suffocating and expects you to color inside the lines.  Anticipation feels spacious, with room to breathe and room to roam.

Expectation is certain.  Anticipation is curious.

Expectation likes information.  Anticipation loves imagination.

Expectation favors control.  Anticipation is fond of courage.

Expectation is an expedition.  Anticipation is an adventure.

It might be easy to think that they are the same thing, but as we head into a new year, I suggest they are not.  We aren’t just haggling over semantics here.  Expectation casts the future in concrete, setting us up for disappointment and disillusion, since life rarely works out exactly as planned.  Anticipation on the other hand, opens the door to new possibilities, leading us on an adventure of discovery and delight, as life unfolds in new and unexpected ways.    

 Expectation or Anticipation?  

Each is a mindset.  

Each is a choice.

2016: A Year of Expectation or Anticipation?

Your choice. 

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Now. Here. This.*

April 3, 2015

by Molly Davis

megaphone-155779_640 Now hear this….

NOW.   This moment.  Right here.  This is when we have.  What is the right/best/good/courageous/loving/authentic thing to do now?

HERE. This place. Right here.  This is where we are. What is the right/best/good/courageous/loving/authentic way to be here now?

THIS. This stuff. Right here. This is what we have. What is the right/best/good/courageous/loving/authentic way to use what is true now?

Then is some other time.  There is somewhere else.  That is something different.

Now hear this…….. Now. Here. This. 

This post was inspired by the April 2, 2015 On Being podcast.  Host Krista Tippett interviewed Father Greg Boyle, who is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit dedicated to helping former and current gang members turn their lives around.  Father Boyle shared that he uses “Now. Here. This.” (also the title of an Off-Broadway play) as a mantra, to remind him to be present with who and what is right in front of him.