Sticking the Landing: In Relationships, It’s All About the Dismount

Every four years, I watch the Olympic Games Gymnastics Competition. Each time, I’m awestruck by the gymnasts’ flexibility, strength, graceful artistry and control. I’m also baffled usually by the scoring. How the judges notice seemingly miniscule imperfections in routines and how they deduct points confounds me. All those high flying feats are more than I ever could do, so it all looks great to me.

Everything, that is, except the dismount.

McKayla Maroney on beam, 2012 Team Trials July 1 Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I may not know the difference between a Gurova, Gainer, Miller or Humphrey, but I can spot an imperfect dismount from a mile. A shaky, wobbly dismount is conspicuous even to the untrained eye. And there’s something else: A jacked up dismount can destroy your impression of an otherwise flawless routine. The inverse is true too. For all the acrobatic turns and flips off a four inch beam, it’s that 2 or 3 seconds when the gymnast leaves the apparatus and sticks the landing – or fails to do so – that seals our perception of how well she performed. It also may determine whether she wins or loses.

So it is with personal, professional and romantic relationships. How we end an involvement with a friend, employer or lover can determine whether their enduring memories of you are fond or distasteful. It’s not as if they’ll forget all the good times, all the sentimental stuff. There’s no erasing unforgettable moments. Instead, your exit colors or discolors the image that leaps to mind when someone mentions your name.

Think about LeBron James and his relationship with Cleveland. His contribution to that city was enormous. But what Cleveland fans remember most is how he told them goodbye.

Of course, that didn’t stop LeBron from winning a championship. And a bad break up won’t stop you from moving ahead with your life either. But why not make the entire relationship experience a memorable one? If you’re taking time to execute a series of intricate twists and flips, you might as well make an effort to stick the landing.

© Copyright Jonathan Clarke, 2012, All Rights Reserved

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