Every few years, most organizations go through some type of Strategic Planning process. If done right, you validate or modify your Vision and Mission, determine and acknowledge your current reality and develop a set of Strategic Objectives to your move your current reality closer to your Vision. Here is a simple illustration:
For this model to be effective, your Vision must be a stretch goal – something that will take you three to five years to achieve AND you need to be honest about your current reality. If you think about it, there are two ways to achieve your Vision – one is to find ways to move your current reality UP to meet your Vision and the other less desirable way is to lower your Vision to meet your current reality. I have seen the second approach played out over and over again, and it is usually because the leader cannot accept the current reality or finds the gap so wide that it is simply easier to recast the Vision. Regardless of the reason, the results are always suboptimal.
It may be hard to accept that your current reality is NOT where you would like it to be BUT without acceptance, change will never happen. An article in HBR, “Good Leaders Know You Can’t Fight Reality” notes that “the ability to accept reality is one of the most useful and most misunderstood skills for a leader”. This concept has been around for centuries, and the article shares a quote from Carl Jung “We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Acceptance is a valuable tool for achieving results.
A few years ago, we worked with a client that was trying to move her organization from tactical to strategic and brought us in to evaluate all the processes, people and technology and develop a roadmap for the future. The current reality was bleak BUT she accepted the current reality, followed our recommendations, and two years later made tremendous progress in moving her organization up the Maturity curve. There were many tough decisions that needed to be made including replacing long time employees that did not have the right skills and were not willing to change. Conversely, we have had other clients that simply did not want to believe or accept their current reality. The results were bleak to say the least and change has simply not happened.
So what is the moral of the story? “It takes courage to accept reality as it is, and only then can you and your team begin to make changes.
There are three different kinds of Acceptance:
- Accepting Results: This can include a failed strategy, poor financial results, or any other setback. You don’t have to like it but willfully fight it is not going to change it.
- Accepting Circumstances: Covid and the circumstances we have all found ourselves in over the last 18 months is a perfect example.
- Accepting Your Failings and Those of Others: We must face reality when it comes to ourselves or those around us. If you need to change, do it. If your employees need to change then help them BUT if they can’t then face reality sooner than later and cut your losses.
“Acceptance is often misunderstood as approval or being against change, but it is neither. Rather, acceptance is about acknowledging the facts and not expending the energy to fight reality. The sooner you accept reality, the sooner you will be ready to make real change happen.
Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .