By May 12, 2012 Read More →

Don’t Wait for the Facts to Change

Don't Wait for the Facts to Change

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you waiting for the economy to change?  Are you waiting for your job to change?  Are you waiting for the weather to change?  Don’t wait.  Work with what you’ve got.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of playing the waiting game.  Especially if it’s a situation you don’t like.  The problem is, while you wait, the world passes you by. It keeps moving forward.  When you “just wait and see,” it takes your power away.  For example, I fell into the trap of waiting for my weather to turn back to the way it used to be.  It’s a new reality now.  The best way for me to make the most of it, is to embrace the change — rather than ignore it, dismiss it, or wait for it to change back.

Life’s better when you don’t wait for the facts to change.  You improve your effectiveness when you respond to life’s curve balls.  You also improve your resilience and self-reliance.  You also create new opportunities.  One of my favorite metaphors here from sports is, “You play the ball, or the ball plays you.”

In the book, Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It, Marshall Goldsmith writes about how we should not wait for the facts to change, and should instead play the cards we have in hand, based on the reality of our situation.  If nothing else, it helps us take advantage of whatever situation we are in.

What We Learn from Lawyers

You can’t wait for the facts to change.  You need to work with what you’ve got.  Marshall writes:

“A big part of our training as lawyers,’ Tom said, ‘was to interpret a pattern of facts so that we could advise a client.  Our teacher would give us a hypothetical set of facts and then go around the classroom asking, ‘What would you do?”  Every student would respond with a course of action.  The answers weren’t always correct or even reasonably intelligent.  Sometimes they were desperate.  But the students always came up with some rationale, some idea to act on.  At no point in these classroom exercises did any of my classmates say, ‘I’m going to wait until the classroom changes.'”

Act More, Wait Less

Waiting leads to underacting.  Marshall writes:

“When people wait for discomforting facts to change into something more to their liking, they’re basically engaging in wishful thinking.  It’s the opposite of over-committing because it leads to under-acting (or under-committing and not acting at all).  Instead of doing something, you’re frozen in place while you wait for a more comfortable set of facts to appear.  In s world that’s constantly rushing forward, this is asking to moving backward,.  That’s a Mojo killer.”

Carve a New Path

Assume the facts won’t change.  Find a a way to make the most of your new situation.  Marshall writes:

“When the facts are not to your liking, ask yourself, ‘What path would I take if I knew that the situation would not get better?’  Then get ready to do that.  If the world changes in your favor, you haven’t lost anything.  If the facts do change, you are more ready to face the new world.”

If there’s something you’ve been waiting for, maybe your wait is finally over.  Carpe diem.

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6 Comments on "Don’t Wait for the Facts to Change"

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  1. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. great thoughts here – not being a lawyer .. but I always think about things that might occur .. I’m working my way round the alternatives – so should they occur I have some sort of game plan. In the meantime I get on with what I need to do .. time waiteth for no man.

    Sad but true! Cheers Hilary

    PS hope you’ve had a good weekend regardless of the weather!

  2. JD says:

    @ Hilary — Sometimes having a game plan is all you need. I find having a game plan helps me “respond” vs. “react” to thing.

    The weather is turning out to be fantastic. As much as I am a weather person, I’ve learned to enjoy the rainy days for being my most productive.

  3. Alik Levin says:

    JD, very good read and call for action. Loved the example with lawers and how they act upon facts that don’t change. I think the key challenge for them and for the rest of us to first get the facts straight. But yeah, the example is powerful and sticky. Got this now in my mind as a mental image.

  4. JD says:

    @ Alik — I think it’s a very fitting mantra for today’s ever-changing world. It’s like riding the wave vs. getting washed over by it.

  5. I’m certainly waiting for the weather to change and it feels like it will never happen! So this is terrific advice. I especially like the idea of assuming the facts won’t change! That can give us the impetus to be creative.

  6. JD says:

    @ Sandra — One of the sayings we use at work is, “Hope is not a strategy.” It reinforces the idea that rather than hope for the best, we can make the best of the situation, with the cards we’ve got in hand.

    It’s powerful stuff when we use what we have and decide to make the most of it.