With the end of any year, many people like to reflect on what has occurred and what may be ahead.

Thought #1 A Poem:

A great boutique hotel we enjoy is The Pillars in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Their Owner sent out the typical year end greeting and thank you for your patronage email. But, also citing the idea of people taking this time of year to examine life, he sent along a little gift. It was a YouTube video of the famous Rudyard Kipling poem, “If”.

You all know this short but powerful poem about hard work and dedication as the keys to success. But it is also a poem about how to deal with people and yourself, at times, in our complex world of relationships. Kipling’s words are as true today as when written a 100 years ago.

This particular poem also has special meaning in my family. I carried a paper version with me for a decade and then gave it to my son, Mike. Mike has now passed it onto to my grandson. And although the original words were written from  father to son, its meaning applies to everyone. I sent a copy of the email to a couple friends who were dealing with work/life transitions and they really enjoyed it.

So take a moment at this time of year to reflect. Maybe read a favorite poem or quote of your own.

Thought #2 Endings versus Beginnings:

A favorite writer of mine, Steve Rushin is back with Sports Illustrated. In his year end column dated 12/30/13, he covered a favorite theme of mine. He called the article, In Closing, and his message was “It’s not how you start but how you finish”. He used both sports analogies like Auburn beating undefeated Alabama on a miracle last play and even Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman.

The way I discuss this concept, especially with young people, is to say that the beginning of anything, and even the middle, is not as important as the end. This can apply to a new work assignment, a new major project or even a crisis. When my former firm, USG Corporation, went through its first financial crisis, we spent three and a half years on the brink of bankruptcy. Most of that time was terrible, for me as CFO, for our crisis team, and the rest of our employees, vendors and stakeholders. At the end, we successfully negotiated a settlement with all our debtors which turned out very well for all concerned.

This also applies to your personal life. A new relationship or even a marriage may start off great but how does it end? A health issue may come as a major shock but with today’s technology can often end much better than expected in the past.

2013 was a tough year for many of our family and friends. Financial or health issues or both. But now that we are at the end of the year, let’s look forward to 2014 as a new beginning and hopefully one that ends a lot better.

So from the Business Zoo, the wish of a wonderful 2014 and a bunch of great endings for all of you!