Endings & Beginnings

Years ago I was recruiting a talented soccer player. I had watched her play many times and we had developed a good relationship. All of my interactions with her led me to believe she was exactly the kind of person I wanted to coach.

I decided it was time to offer her a spot on our roster as well as an athletic scholarship to attend our University. I was confident in the relationship we had built and I felt strongly that she would say yes to this opportunity.

A college selection is quite likely the biggest decision that any 17-year-old will make, so it was important to me that I made an offer like this face to face. As a result, I drove several hundred miles to have a ten-minute conversation with her. As I began to share with her that we wanted her on our team and that we could provide an athletic scholarship in addition to the academic scholarship she would receive, I noticed her smile and that her body language was saying, “YES!” But instead, she said, “Thank you, Coach. Can I call you in a few days and let you know my decision?” I said, “Of course. I want you to be comfortable with your decision so please take whatever time you need.” And then we parted ways.

Once I got in my car I found myself very confused. Her body language said yes, but she didn’t immediately accept our offer and I was perplexed as to what had just transpired.

Sure enough, later the next night she called and said she would love to come play for us and earn a degree at our University. She also apologized that she couldn’t tell me this in person. She went on to explain that she had narrowed down her college options to three Universities and she had developed a relationship with the coaches at each school. She said that our University had always been her first pick but she needed to call the other two coaches and say no to them before she said yes to me. Yep, a 17-year-old understood that how you end one thing is how the next thing begins. She needed to end those relationships with honesty, transparency, and healthy communication. It shouldn’t surprise you that over the next four years our player-coach relationship was rooted in those three things.

As you prepare to turn the page from one calendar year to the next you may discover there are things you want to leave behind in 2018. I would encourage you to end those things properly while recognizing that most healthy endings don’t happen in one day or even over the course of several weeks.

Maybe you need to end a relationship and you are tempted to allow it to fade out while you mentally move on to someone else. The inability to value the sacredness of your current relationship will be the foundation of your new relationship.
Maybe you are leaving a work environment that doesn’t provide you with meaning and purpose and you are considering going out in a blaze of glory, which includes confronting former co-workers and saying all the things that you’ve never said. That anger will be the bedrock of your new career path.
Or maybe there are pieces of yourself that you’ve discovered are no longer serving you well and you desire to make a personal change in the New Year. If you close out the year, all the way through the midnight countdown, celebrating your old self then that will spill into the New Year becoming the cornerstone of a not-so-new you.

So take a page from the performing arts. We all know that feeling when a great song comes to an end. We can feel it building and then the last chord is played and there is a sense of resolution, a finality to the song which is often followed by a pause of silence as the final notes hang and then fade in the air. Maybe that is a good mental model to adopt as you shift into the New Year. Figure out what needs to come to a close, provide a clear sense of finality, and then allow space for silence to linger before you move on to whatever is next.

I think Semisonic was on to something when they sang that “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” In this season of endings and beginnings remember that how you end one thing IS how the next thing begins.

Your New Year’s Resolution may be less about what you want to do in 2019 and more about how you bring 2018 to a close.

Molly Grisham, mollygrisham.com
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Molly Grisham