I used to say, even write at times, “it is what it is”. I would feel it strongly. I preached it. I passed it on as advice. Although, admittedly, the first time I heard someone tell me that in a meeting I frowned and “downgraded” in my mind. However, the more I heard people say it, I heard something different. I heard disempowered people using it quite often. Hence, I came to see that in a way, such a statement serves as a coping mechanism. If things are out of your control, then you can’t internalize a situation. You can compartmentalize your troubles. You can keep yourself, somewhat anxiety-free. And, who doesn’t want thst. Also, it is a coping tactic.
However, by stating such a statement, one also abdicates responsibility. Some people take the perspective, if there’s nothing that I can do about it, I don’t need to try. Now, if truly no path forward exists it would be foolishness to exert much effort. We all have much going on in our lives and can most assuredly find other reasonable paths to pursue.
Thus, I have told myself there has to be a more thoughtful bit of similar advice. And, hence my new philosophy: “if it is to be, it’s up to me.” (There’s a book by Thomas B. Smith with this title and how it relates to leadership development). Some things may be up to fate, but I can determine my fate. I have a hand in my options, even if others hold many cards. I like feeling empowered and filled with self-efficacy. And, I want to be able to act on that feeling. I still do adhere to Kenny Roger’s song bit that you have to know when to roll them, and know when to fold them. That’s being strategic. But more often than not, I am going to go for it and not let other’s pin me down in their own negativity, ennui, or diffusion of responsibility.