Recently, a colleague of mine said “That’s how it is everywhere” when I mentioned something I thought was a weakness.
This got me thinking of how we rationalize challenging situations and stifle productivity with phrases like:
“That’s just how it is.”
“It’s like that everywhere.”
“That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
And my personal favorite because it simultaneously avoids the issue and places accountability on someone else:
“I’m not sure why they do it that way.”
Whether due to apathy, impulsiveness or issue avoidance, hiding behind these phrases feeds our instinctive desire to maintain the status quo. Productivity suffers. Personal growth is stalled.
Instead of thinking or blurting phrases like those above, remember these ones:
“Just being OK isn’t OK.”
“If you aren’t offering solutions to the problem, you are part of it.”
“There might be a new and better way than the way you’ve always done it.”
And my personal favorite because it simultaneously addresses the issue and accepts joint responsibility for the outcome:
“Why don’t we try (insert new idea) because (insert rationale for new idea)?”
You might be thinking that you’re tapped out. You have no more bandwidth. You already multitask every waking hour. I understand. I’m not suggesting you add work hours or take on dramatic new responsibilities. I’m also not saying there’s always a clearcut answer or that coming up with creative ideas is easy.
I’m suggesting you take the time to think about potential solutions rather than just spending time pointing out flaws, or worse, doing nothing and accepting the status quo.
It doesn’t have to be a Herculean effort towards process improvement. Just take a common sense approach to the challenges you notice or hear about:
- Engage co-workers and friends.
- Ask both: “Why?” and “Why not?”
- Brainstorm on potential solutions.
- Write down specifics and build an action plan.
- Present your ideas and findings to others.
You might be surprised when it recharges your batteries and doesn’t take as much time as you thought.
You have ideas that could make a difference. Have the courage to articulate them. If more people do, we might even be able to say: “That’s how it is everywhere.”