One of our Leader Essentials is End Well. It's a tough one because it requires intentionality and no one really wants to think about the end of a group . . . especially at the beginning of a group. But ending a group well matters. It's worth the effort.
"Why Are Kids Who Get Less Candy Happier on Halloween?" is a recent post by Shankar Vedantam on NPR's The Salt blog (it includes a 4-minute podcast that is well worth your time). The post digs into the counterintuitive findings of two research projects—one dealing with trick-or-treaters, the other with colonoscopy patients. That's a strange mix, I know, and the next paragraph is going to get a little weird, but stick with me.
The researchers found that kids who were given a candy bar and then a piece of gum were less satisfied with their trick-or-treat experience than kids who received a candy bar and no gum. By contrast, colonoscopy patients rated the overall experience less awful when the equipment wasn’t removed immediately after the procedure was over. That seems backwards, right?
The key finding actually has something valuable to say about the importance of ending well:
"With the Halloween candy study, the kids got the great treat first and then a lesser treat afterward.
"With the colonoscopies, they got the unpleasant procedure first and then got something slightly less unpleasant afterward. And it turns out that when we think about experiences, we don't think about the experience as a whole—we are significantly biased by how the experience ends.
"So if we have a great experience that starts to go downhill, we rate the overall experience as being less good. Whereas if something starts out terribly and then starts to get better toward the end, we rate the overall experience a little bit better."
The cost of not beginning a group with the end in mind may be a huge impact on the way group members view the entire group experience—especially if the group is allowed to go on too long and eventually fizzles out.
Thinking about the end of a group isn't fun, but it's necessary. Everything ends eventually, even groups. You can either stumble into the end of your group or you can plan for it from the beginning. Whatever you choose, it's almost guaranteed to influence how your group members look back on the entire group experience.
How are you planning today for a successful end to your current group?