It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes the best thing to do is to let it pass; wait for the tide to pass. It’s the best solution when things are beyond anyone’s control and it’s simply a matter of time and perseverance. Having this mindset helps in getting through blocks which are caused by things beyond our control like macro-economic situations, disruption, mergers and acquisitions. As leaders we are biased towards action, our first reaction is to act but taking actions which are not thought through can hurt our career. 

One of the first things people do is to think of quitting when they are not happy with their supervisors. But that may not be the perfect solution; they should not give up on their dream job so easily. What would they do if they get a difficult boss again? Similarly, if you are in a role that’s not very fulfilling, but you know you have to stay in it for personal reasons, you could be miserable about it, complain about it or let that time pass patiently.

As humans and more as leaders we are always trying to be in charge. We think we have the ability to control anything and everything that comes our way and we believe we have the capabilities to handle it perfectly. But that’s not true; there are many things in life that are out of our hands. Sometimes not doing anything is harder than taking action especially for leaders who are used to taking action. This requires patience, persistence and perseverance to believe that not doing anything now will help us build something solid later. 

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance[i] Angela Duckworth, wrote about two components that make us Gritty – Passion and Perseverance. As Duckworth defined it, “Grit is passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way. It combines resilience, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that take months, years, or even decades.” 

I loved this book and it resonated well with me, particularly the part where she compared the focus on passion versus perseverance. In general, people are more focussed on their passion, but we don’t spend enough time building and practicing persistence, perseverance and patience to live through that passion. I think there is a lot of unlearning and learning for leaders here, as traditional leadership has been all about being aggressive and taking action whereas sometimes what’s required is just the opposite!

For cricket lovers, here is an interesting analogy. When a batsman is out of form he tries to block the ball, he tries to get it on his bat or his body, instead of hitting big shots. He spends time on the pitch till he starts to get back in the groove. At times we need to do exactly that till we get back in our zone.

When things are not in your control and you can’t do anything to influence the situation, the best thing to do is to wait for it to autocorrect or let it pass!

So time for us to unlearn, learn and relearn! 

A seasoned leader said that she always asks herself two questions before taking any action. These could be good questions to ask ourselves also;

  • Does this opportunity help me to grow?
  • What value can I add in this situation?