Every leader has had situations that didn’t go their way . . . best laid plans that went awry. Or, we have found ourselves in circumstances where we knew exactly what we wanted, and we simply couldn’t have it in the way we envisioned. Or we were faced with a range of undesirable options with no best, or even good, way forward. My advice in in such situations . . . never settle.
When you settle, you give your power away. You are saying — to yourself and your people — “I didn’t have a choice,” or “This was the best we could do.” Do you feel your energy slipping away even when you read those words? And for the pragmatists reading this who may be thinking, “Well, sometimes you don’t have a choice” . . . you always have a choice.
Yes, there will be times when you know exactly what you want, or think you need, and it simply seems out of reach. Not settling may mean reimagining what “it” looks like. There is always more than one way to reach an outcome. Not settling may mean you choose a path that is different, out of the ordinary, dare I even say better than the one you originally envisioned. It is the option that you only discover when you have bumped up against the limits that cause most to settle, and you make a choice to say, “We are going to find another way.” Do you feel the resolve in that statement? The commitment to dig deep, to look beyond the limits you have placed on yourself, and find a different route forward?
So how do you not settle when you are faced with a host of lousy options . . . when your choices come down to bad or worse? First, you own it. Don’t blame the circumstances, or “them” (whoever that particular villain is at the moment). Sometimes being a leader means having to make really hard choices. Yes, it stinks. And it is part of the job. So don’t settle. Look beyond the current challenging circumstances to your desired destination, and then make the choice that best positions you to reach that goal. And once you have made a decision, put one foot in front of the other and walk through the tough stuff to the rewards on the other side. Settling means wallowing, and why would you want to hang out any longer than necessary in the muck of lousy circumstances?
How you handle the challenges before either diminishes your influence as a leader, or adds to your team’s willingness help you reach the destination. My advice? Never settle.