“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou
We’ve talked about the idea of locus of control in this space before, and the idea that as leaders we don’t have enough time or energy to waste either on things we can’t control. Reading the above quote this week reminded me that even if you’re focused on things you can control, at some point you actually have to control them.
It doesn’t fix things if you simply eliminate from your mind the things you have no control over, although that’s a great first step. Once you’ve done that though, you have to act on the things you do control. It’s not enough to recognize there’s a problem and you could do something about it – you must actually do it.
That seems like a pretty simple concept. Unfortunately there are many leaders who consistently focus on something they could fix, but they don’t fix it. They know there’s an issue with one or more of their people, or their products, or their customers, or their marketing, or their delivery, or whatever. They know what needs to be done. But they don’t do it. Instead, they just complain over and over about how much they’d like the problem to go away, while all the while they have the power to make that happen.
It doesn’t stop with businesses. I think to a large degree we all do the same thing with our personal lives. There are things we’d like to do or change, and we could do them or change them, but instead we just complain about them. Then ten years go by and we complain how we haven’t done anything we want to with our lives – when the truth is that’s the path we’ve chosen.
If you can only do one thing differently in 2014, I suggest it be this: change your attitude. Learn to recognize the things you can change, and then change them. And if you can’t (or won’t) make a change, put it out of your mind. Don’t waste your time and everybody else’s complaining.