I recently came across the phrase, “Leave it, change it or accept it,” and I’ve been using it successfully with my clients ever since. Let me tell you, I really get people’s attention when I bring this up.
In any situation in life, any situation, you always have three choices:
1. You can leave it. Get out. Walk away. Let it go.
2. You can change it. The catch? You can only change what’s in your control.
3. You can accept it. Unconditionally. As it is.
It’s a simple choice, but not necessarily easy to implement. Each choice will have its own set of consequences.
Let’s say you’re the managing partner of a law firm and Bill, one of your senior partners, is not delivering the business development results you expected. You have three choices:
1. You can leave it. This doesn’t mean that you leave the organization, but it may mean that you ask Bill to leave. Leaving it is usually the cleanest choice, but often one of the hardest choices to make because there can be so many emotional ties.
2. You can change it. But only what’s in your control. So in this example, where Bill is underperforming in business development, you have complete control to change the manner in which you are tolerating this performance. Maybe you can set stronger boundaries or institute some consequences. Perhaps you can find out what’s stopping or blocking Bill’s progress, and get him the training, coaching, resources or mentoring that will close the gap. Just remember – you can’t change or control another person or what he or she does with what you give them.
3. You can accept it. In so many of the situations I encounter in working with clients, they usually don’t want to leave it – they just don’t have enough chuptzpah (Yiddish for “brazen nerve” or “guts”) to follow through. They want to change it but don’t know how. So they sweep it under the rug. This is not the same as acceptance. What you’re doing is tolerating less than acceptable performance, and that causes undue stress and is not fair to you, the organization or the person who’s not holding their own. True acceptance means you literally let go of your disappointment, judgement, stress and resentment, and just accept the reality of the situation unconditionally. This is a very, very difficult thing. Yet if you can get into that state of mind, I guarantee that your life will be so much more fulfilling and rewarding, with far less stress.
We all make compromises in our relationships, because no one is perfect. In our personal relationships, we learn to focus on our loved ones’ strengths, rather than their faults. At work, you can do exactly the same thing. Maybe Bill’s business development skills are lacking, but his billable hours have increased and he also has a good track record of bringing new lawyers into the practice. Perhaps there is another partner who can pick up the slack on the business development.
Although you always have these three choices available, most people end up choosing two of them simultaneously, and this is really ideal. While you’re implementing some changes, you can also be practicing acceptance the best you can.
So, think of a situation that you’re struggling with. Don’t overcomplicate it. Just ask yourself, do you want to leave it, do you want to change it or do you want to accept it as it is? Once you’ve assessed the situation this way, come up with your action steps and jump in!
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