Sunday, March 10, 2013

"It is what it is!"

“It is what it is!” is an often overused cliché in many organizations today.  It basically means that you are unwilling or unable to change things or your circumstances in order to improve the quality or efficiency of your life or work.  But most of the time it’s more because you’re unwilling than you’re unable.  If you speak out against something you believe to be ineffective or just plain wrong you’ll run the risk of repercussions.

For example, you may be frustrated by the roadblocks, bureaucracy, policies, or procedures in your organization and when you complain about them you’re told, “It is what it is!”  You may be stuck in a hopeless, no-win situation such as a bad job or relationship and you say, “It is what it is!”  You see crime and social injustice happening all around you and you say, “It is what it is!”  It’s a victim mentality.
For many years I used to work for a company where management’s solution to every problem (and there were too many to count) was to say, “It is what it is!” For example, I once had a very important customer who spent millions of dollars a year with the company and complained about the unreliability of their equipment; after reporting this to my management, their response was, “It is what it is!”  And when my customer refused to accept their excuses, management’s response was to shoot the messenger (me). Now, when I hear someone use that blasted cliché “It is what it is!” it’s like listening to nails on a chalk board!

Imagine if Jesus of Nazareth said, “The world is lost and going to hell in a hand basket; I better shut-up or they’ll crucify me; it is what it is!”  Imagine is Abraham Lincoln said, “If I keep speaking out against slavery the Southern States will secede from the Union; I better shut-up about slavery; it is what it is!”  Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If I keep speaking out against social injustice and the evils of segregation someone is going to kill me; I’d better shut-up; it is what it is!” 
Our world would be the poorer if great men and woman throughout history didn’t have the courage to speak out against the problems in society.  Working to make the world a better place involves risk and sacrifice.  George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950) wrote, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself; therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man!”  I’m rather found of another great philosopher, Dr. Seuss, who wrote in his bestselling novel The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing’s going to get better, it’s not!” 

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