Leave it, change it or love it

Are you the type of person who values other people’s advice? While I don’t want to offer you some advice myself, I do want to tell you a story that had a profound effect on my attitude, my perception and my career. I personally like to learn from other people’s experiences, so I hope you find the following of interest and will share your thoughts and feedback with me.

It was around 7 years ago when Gerhard gave me some valuable advice. Gerhard was my former boss and a manager with years of experience leading international teams for various companies, including Microsoft and Lotus in Australia, South Africa and Germany. Indeed, it was Gerhard that helped EXASOL to transform itself from a technology company into a market-oriented, sales-driven organization. We certainly appreciated his extensive knowledge of business, his management skills as well as his great sense of humor.

One day a colleague in our management team complained about a rather unimportant, minor issue. Gerhard simply replied with a short sentence: “Then you’ll just have to leave it, change it or love it.” At first, I thought that Gerhard’s reply was a little too trivial, especially given that someone had raised an issue. And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I understood what he meant and the more I was impressed by his answer.

Don’t be annoyed! Act!

The core of Gerhard’s answer is pretty simple: If something or someone bothers you, it’s far better to not let yourself get annoyed. Just think for a moment of things that stress you out – if you are honest with yourself, chances are that you’ll think of a fair few things. But think about this instead – how much negativity does getting stressed out by things cause and is it all worth it?

Instead, why not try turning the issue into a non-issue? What I mean is that you don’t necessarily have to solve the problem at hand, but instead just change your attitude. As Gerhard tells us, you can simply leave it, change it or love it. Let me explain.

The easiest option is to learn to accept things (love it). You don’t need to support the situation, but simply accept it as it is. Learn to see the positive things about it, find peace with it or try not to think about it anymore. The great thing with this approach is that you’ll stop being annoyed by it. This may sound easy, but of course you’ll have to learn how to change your attitude.

Secondly, you can try to fix the issue (change it). In my opinion this is a little more difficult, despite that fact you know why something bothers you and how the situation can be fixed. However, you might be too anxious to raise an idea, you may not have the appropriate authority to decide what to do, or it might just take too much work or they may be too many other people to persuade. That’s why it is far easier for us humans to complain about something instead of setting out to fix the root cause. But remember that if you decide not to fix it, there are only the other two alternatives that can improve the situation. So maybe you should at least give it a try.

Finally, the last option when you’re bothered with an issue is to leave it. You may think that this option is not possible or too risky. But if you are brave enough, perhaps you should consider it. For example, I continue to read that the vast majority of people are deeply unhappy with their current job. And yet, they continue to work where they are. Continuing to do something that you don’t like for such a large amount of your life seems foolish and sad, and yet many continue to make such a decision on a daily basis. If you don’t agree, I suggest you go back and think about the other two options.

Don’t be afraid! You’ll be rewarded!

So the lesson I learned from Gerhard’s advice was that I should stop feeling bad about things or blame others for problems, but actually take responsibility myself, become active rather than passive and constructive rather than frustrated. It took me a while to change my attitude, but over the years I have remembered these words in situations when something bothered me - both in my professional and private life. And I realized that I was often stuck in a kind of comfort zone. Instead of changing things I was too passive; instead of questioning certain decisions, I kept my head low and thought that it was none of my business.

But the more I have followed Gerhard’s advice and started to question things, the more I have realized how refreshing and motivating it is to start changing things or accepting and embracing them. And in certain conflicts I have simply decided to back away. Sometimes you just have to pick the things you really want to fight for, and sometimes it is better to accept them. All this has led to less frustration, more motivation and, more importantly, balance in my life.

If you have found this article of use, then thanks a lot you for your interest and I’d indeed be grateful to hear your thoughts about the idea of leave it, change it or love it.

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