|With the challenges in the economy in the last few years, many leaders are getting discouraged. It used to be so easy to succeed. Now it’s more challenging. Leaders everywhere have to do more with less working with fewer resources, lower budgets and smaller staffs.
It’s hard to get momentum when everything seems so hard. You can start to fall into the trap of just getting by. But as a leader, it’s your job not to accept the status quo. How can you break out of the difficulties and rise to a level of ease and prosperity?
One simple way – and it may surprise you – is letting it be easy.
“Letting it be easy” is a mindset that can break you out of the toil and struggle that so many leaders experience today. It’s an acknowledgement that even though we can’t seem to control it, sometimes things just work out. We have a breakthrough. We get a golden opportunity. The answers just appear.
It may seem that such good fortune is impossible to attract, as if we just have to wait for it to happen. To some extent, that may be true. On the other hand, you have to be willing to open up to the possibility that maybe, if you could become more trusting and relaxed, those breakthrough opportunities are all around you.
A friend and mentor of mine once taught me this:
To put this suggestion into effect, you just have to notice what’s working and do more of it. Notice what’s not working and do less of it. Easy.
Let’s look at some examples of how letting it be easy can resolve some of the tough issues facing leaders today.
One organization was struggling with the decision of how to cut their staff, but the CEO had a strong commitment to avoiding layoffs. What was working? He had a loyal staff that was dedicated to the success of the business. What wasn’t working? He was overstaffed. He decided to start by simply asking people who would accept early retirement or willingly go part-time. The response was surprising, and the CEO was able to reduce the budget without feeling like it had cost people their jobs.
Another organization similarly wanted to cut costs, but leaders were stuck in the dilemma of hard choices about where to cut for the least negative impact. What was working? This was an energetic, creative organization with lots of innovative ideas. What wasn’t working? The organization simply didn’t have the volume in sales to operate the way it had in the past. Finally the leaders decided to do something easy: they asked their employees for innovative ideas about how to cut costs. The brainstorming meetings revealed very clear themes and the answer about where to cut became readily apparent.
In both cases, leaders were faced with impossible choices, and the decisions seemed very hard to make. Opening up their minds to new possibilities, they found the answers came to them. They let it be easy.
This strategy is especially helpful for making difficult decisions or finding your way through confusion. However, it’s important to remember that letting it be easy is not an excuse to be lazy, to accept failure or to give up. Persistence and courage are still important.
Letting it be easy shouldn’t be confused with:
Try these questions to help you get in the mindset of letting it be easy.
Take a step back every once in awhile. Notice where you’re struggling and recognize where it’s easy. Even if just for a while, try going the easy way. It may be the path of success. The Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu put it simply: Easy is right.
|–by Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D.
Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D. (http://joellekjay.com/) is an executive coach specializing in leadership development and the author of The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, which shows leaders how to improve their effectiveness by learning to lead themselves. Her newsletter, Inner Edge Insights, offers articles, exercises, tips, quotes, and success stories from real leaders to help you excel. To register, please visit www.TheInnerEdge.com and click on Newsletter, or email [email protected]