In my office hangs a plaque given to me as a gift. It originally read, It Is What It Is. After a few weeks of reading that phrase several times a day, what I once regarded as a harmless saying began to challenge my thinking and poke at my convictions. It became clear to me this seemingly innocent phrase embodied much of what’s wrong with leadership today. So I did what any good leader would do—I took action.
I rummaged through my desk drawer and found my whittling knife. I then proceeded to carve the following inscription beneath the original statement: Until You Decide To Change It. What once served as a statement of defeat now reads as instructive encouragement; the text no longer lulls people who read it into a state of complacency—it now propels them forward.
This simple piece of wall art (prior to my modification) is sadly representative of many who hold positions of leadership. Burdened by common practice, busyness, and an aversion to change, many leaders today suffer from an acute case of mental numbness. They have fallen prey to the slow seduction of the status quo. As time has passed, they have succumbed to accepting what is instead of pursuing what if. They make safe choices instead of smart choices—they have forgotten what it is to be a leader.
There is no shortage of debate surrounding leadership when it comes to philosophy, style, definitional distinctions, nuances, complex theory, and so and so forth. That said, I believe most reasonable people would agree ...