It is what it is

The first time I met with the COO of a company I used to work for, the conversation got cut short with this ruthless statement, yielding for nothing but acceptance. Nothing to add, just swallow both my pride and the pill, whatever the message. I had been invited to share ideas and suggestions based on my past experiences and recent findings within the business. I did get to do that, and I also heard some “ok, but” and other “there is no way we can do that in our environment”. There I was, walking back to my desk, amputated from thoughts I trusted were going to get supported.

I did not feel desperate, probably just out of place. Being hired for “thinking out of the box”, regardless of the education level or years of (in)experience, I guess my hopes were high when I got in, and shattered when I left the meeting room. Maybe it digs deeper in what one wants to achieve in life, or how to be remembered. I keep hearing about similar scenarios where the hiring company is looking for fresher ideas, encouraging different brains to apply, and end up turning that freshness down: not because they were not going to be a good fit, more because it was easier and safer to promote someone internally, someone who had a strong knowledge of the business.

Not wanting to start a revolution here, I am still puzzled when status quo gets picked because it feels judicious and protective of something of the past when looking into the future. It takes guts to take risk and challenge a routine one knows brings little satisfaction. So why waste so much energy and time, suspecting new ideas, or ways to do, could look so disruptive? Why change a winning team…? If fear is holding some back, where years of habits are often like concrete and hard to break, daring minds, drawn to growth and detours may indeed fail on the “good fit” search.

Decisions depend on a company’s goal, and sometimes an entire company goes by the rules of only one person’s. If that choice dictates future resolutions, then just stick to centuries of same-old, same-old options, carry on and forget surprises. Angel investors and other versions of Einstein’s will keep on surprising the rest of the world with their ideas, initially unthinkable, and Forbes will continue to write articles about the young, and not-so-young, innovators: they make what becomes, and rarely take what is for what will remain. Unless there is absolutely nothing left to do to mature, or simply because the heart wears out and is flirting with exhaustion, “it is” can still flourish to new levels.